January 20, 2016 / 12:05 PM / in 2 years

Khamenei praises arrest of U.S. sailors, condemns Saudi embassy attack

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday thanked the Revolutionary Guards for briefly detaining U.S. sailors last week, but condemned the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran as an action that damaged the country.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Jan. 2 after Saudi Arabia executed a Shi‘ite Muslim cleric. This prompted Riyadh to sever relations with Tehran, which in turn cut all commercial ties with Riyadh, and banned pilgrims from traveling to Mecca.

“Attacking the Saudi embassy (in Tehran) … was really bad and harmed Iran and Islam, but this should not be an excuse to criticize our devout young people,” Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to thank the young soldiers in the Revolutionary Guards. What they did in the Persian Gulf was right,” Khamenei also said.

Ten U.S. sailors, who were aboard two patrol craft, were detained for 15 hours by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Jan. 12 when they inadvertently entered Iranian territorial waters.

“The politician should do the same and stop the enemies with full power if they cross the line anywhere,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei on Tuesday welcomed the implementation of the nuclear deal with world powers and lifting of international sanctions against Iran, but warned that Tehran should remain wary of its old enemy the United States and its “deceit and treachery.”

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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