Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps says seized vessel was carrying 700,000 litres of fuel for Arab states.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has seized a foreign oil tanker carrying “smuggled fuel” in the Gulf, according to Iranian media.
State TV and the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday that seven crew members were detained when the vessel was captured on Wednesday.
“The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries,” Iranian TV quoted IRGC commander Ramezan Zirahi as saying.
“It carried 700,000 litres of fuel. Seven sailors onboard of the tanker, who are from different nationalities, were detained.”
State TV says seven sailors of different nationalities detained during incident in the Gulf
Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Iran‘s capital, Tehran, said the detained crew were taken to the southern port city of Bushehr.
“The Revolutionary Guards say that they carried out this operation once they had acquired the appropriate permits from the judiciary.”
The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said it did not have information to confirm the reports. Maritime tracking experts also said they did not have any immediate information about the incident or the vessel.
Iran is still holding a British-flagged tanker it captured in the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards in a speedboat alongside the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized in the strait of Hormuz in July .
The seizure of the Stena Impero came some two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accused of breaching European Union sanctions on Syria. Iran denies the ship was bound for the war-torn country.
Tensions have soared in recent months around the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil shipping waterway that lies between Iran and Oman.
The friction is rooted in US President Donald Trump’s decision in May last year to unilaterally withdraw Washington from a landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 between world powers and Iran, and reimpose sweeping sanctions on the country.
The US has boosted its military presence in the region, blaming Iran for multiple suspected attacks on tankers in the Gulf, which Tehran denies.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES