The leader of Iran’s Basij military organization claimed on Wednesday that the United States released $1.7 billion in cash assets to Iran "in a bid to buy [the] freedom of its spies held by Tehran," according to the country’s state-controlled press.
Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the Basij commander, said that the $1.7 billion release, which purportedly includes the repayment by the United States of a $400 million debt and $1.3 billion in interest, was awarded to Iran in order to secure the release of five Americans who were freed by Iran over the weekend.
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"The annulment of sanctions against Iran's Bank Sepah and reclaiming of $1.7mln of Iran's frozen assets after 36 years showed that the US doesn’t understand anything but the language of force," Naqdi was quoted as saying on Wednesday during a speech before the Basic forces in Tehran.
This particular cash release was not formally part of the nuclear deal, Naqdi claimed.
"This money was returned for the freedom of the US spy and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations," he said.
In exchange for the release of the five prisoners, the United States pardoned or dropped sanctions on 21 Iranian accused of breaching sanctions by aiding the Islamic Republic’s illicit nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praised the country’s military on Wednesday for the temporary detainment of 10 U.S. sailors early last week.
"They displayed Iran's identity and power against the enemy aggression," Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying to Iranian officials on Wednesday. "The Iranian officials should also show similar actions in all other fields and show powerful reaction wherever the enemy violates Iran's national interests."
Iranian military leaders also have revealed that at least 200,000 troops have been stationed in Iraq, Syria, and Libya and will work to combat U.S. forces in the region.
"A massive numberless popular force similar to Basij [volunteer forces] has been formed in Iraq, Syria and Libya against internal and foreign plots which is necessary for the survival of resistance," Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, was said during a speech in Tehran on Wednesday.
"And over-200,000-strong organized popular force has been formed in these countries and it is the same force that no army even of the US and Israel can confront it," Jafari said.