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British troops fly back to Iraq after being released by Iran

KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ Eight British servicemen detained for four days in Iran returned to Iraq on Friday, ending a diplomatic crisis.

An Iranian commercial flight took the six Royal Marines and two sailors back to the British sector in southern Iraq after stops in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The eight were captured Monday when their river patrol boats apparently strayed onto the Iranian side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, or Arvand River, that runs along the Iran-Iraq border.

Britain said the troops were from a Royal Navy training team based in southern Iraq and were delivering a boat to Iraq's new river police.

Iran initially said it would prosecute them for illegally entering Iranian waters. British concern mounted after Iranian television showed the eight blindfolded and sitting cross-legged on the ground.

On Thursday Iran turned the men over to the British Embassy in Tehran.

``They appear fit and well and in good spirits,'' Capt. Hisham Halawai said.

Iran's foreign minister says Iran was also returning their three boats. State media had reported earlier Iran planned to keep them.
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