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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Navy Crew Flown Back To London

LONDON -- The plane carrying 15 members of the British navy crew freed by Iran arrived at London's Heathrow Airport on Thursday.

Armed police patrolled the tarmac as two military helicopters idled on the airport's north runway. The British Airways plane landed at the VIP suite near Heathrow's Terminal Four, and passengers were being led off the back of the plane.

The fifteen British sailors and marines held captive for nearly two weeks left Iran early Thursday, ending a standoff a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced their release.

Once airborne, the sailors and marines celebrated their freedom with champagne and laughter, a British reporter aboard the flight said.

On board, the 15 were given fresh military uniforms for their arrival at Heathrow Airport, a British marines' spokesman said.

The sailors arrived at the Tehran airport in a convoy of black sedans about an hour before takeoff, escorted by the elite Revolutionary Guards. Before boarding, they received gifts given to them on Ahmadinejad's behalf, including handicrafts, a vase and special Persian sweets, Iran's state-run news agency, IRNA, reported.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed "profound relief" over the peaceful end to the 13-day crisis, telling the Iranian people: "We bear you no ill will."