British Troops Back Home

By: Charlie D'Agata, CBS News
By: Charlie D'Agata, CBS News
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15 British sailors and marines who'd been held captive in Iran are back on British soil. Their flight landed at London's Heathrow Airport Thursday morning.
From there, they will be choppered to a Royal Airbase for private family reunions.
At Tehran's airport this morning, the newly released sailors sipped tea and opened gifts from the Iranian President before boarding a long awaited flight to London.
Most of the 15 had a sleepless night.

"I was too excited about thinking about meeting my family and friends seeing everyone again."

Sporting new suits and new found freedom, the sailors appeared before the cameras and shook hands with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad made the surprise announcement that the crew accused of entering Iranian waters would finally be let go.

Inside the Presidential Palace, the sailors were shown celebrating. Crew members told state-run television they had been treated well.

"They have taken care of us medically and physically, and given us plenty of food and water."

By releasing the sailors, Iran got plenty of media attention but not what it really wanted which was a public apology from officials in London.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain bore no ill will toward the Iranian people but he conceded nothing.

"Throughout we have taken a measured approach, firm but calm, not negotiating but not confronting either."

The Sailor's release was unexpected but welcomed news for worried families.

"When we heard, I fell on the floor. Just an astonishing moment. Just floods of tears."

So why did the standoff end now?
Observers say Iran's hard-line leadership may have decided that it had proven its strength and did not want to risk pushing the crisis too far.


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