Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has awarded medals to five navy commanders who detained 10 American sailors earlier this month.
The US Navy personnel were held after their two patrol boats crossed into Iran’s waters on 12 January while on their way from Kuwait to Bahrain.
The sailors were released a day later after being held on Farsi Island in the Gulf, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have a base.
Mr Khamenei, who has said Iran should remain wary of the US despite their recent nuclear deal, awarded the Fath (Victory) medal to Admiral Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guard’s navy, and four commanders who seized the nine men and one woman.
The medal has been awarded to war heroes, military commanders and politicians, especially those involved in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Iran initially accused the sailors of spying.
But Mr Fadavi later said an investigation had established the sailors were led astray by “a broken navigation system” and the trespassing was “not hostile or for spying purposes”.
Meanwhile, the US military criticised Iran for flying an unarmed drone over a US aircraft carrier operating in international waters in the Gulf this month.
It called the move “abnormal and unprofessional”.
In March 2007, Iranian forces seized 15 British servicemen in the mouth of a waterway separating Iran and Iraq.
They were held for 13 days, sparking a diplomatic crisis.