Iran seizes boat near Strait of Hormuz

Iran seizes boat suspected of being used to smuggle fuel, arrests its 11 crew members.

Elad Benari,

Strait of Hormuz
Strait of Hormuz
Thinkstock

Iran has seized a boat suspected of being used to smuggle fuel and arrested its 11 crew members near a vital oil shipping lane, AFP reported on Monday, citing state television.

A naval patrol of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intercepted the vessel carrying 250,000 liters of fuel near the Strait of Hormuz, state TV’s website said, citing a commander of the force.

“This boat was sailing from Bandar Lengeh towards United Arab Emirates waters before it was seized 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Greater Tunb island,” Brigadier General Ali Ozmayi was quoted as saying.

“The boat’s 11 crew members have been arrested,” he added, without saying when the incident happened or giving their nationality.

The incident marks the second time this month that Iran has seized a boat in the Gulf. On September 7, a boat suspected of smuggling fuel was detained and its 12 Filipino crew members arrested in the Strait of Hormuz.

In July, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker after it passed through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf.

While the incident took place after the UK and Gibraltar seized the Iran-flagged tanker Grace 1 in early July on the grounds that it was attempting to transport oil to Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied the move was an act of revenge for the capture of the Iranian tanker.

Monday’s announcement about the latest incident comes with tensions brewing in the Gulf after weekend drone attacks on two major Saudi oil installations that the United States has blamed on Iran.

Going back even further, the Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to close the Strait of Hormuz, with the United States warning Iran in response that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for US military action.

In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the area.




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