Iran seizes foreign tanker in Strait of Hormuz, 2nd seizure in a week

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said Wednesday it had seized a foreign oil tanker in the waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

The reason for holding the oil tanker remains unclear, but the IRGC called the vessel a “violator.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said in a statement that a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker was seized by the IRGC Navy “while transiting the Strait of Hormuz.”

The US Navy published footage shot by an aerial drone that showed about a dozen IRGC vessels seizing the foreign tanker at around 6:20 am local time (0250GMT).

The IRGC vessels “forced the oil tanker to reverse course and head toward Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran,” the US Navy said.

Wednesday’s incident comes a week after the Iranian army’s naval division seized a Marshal Islands-flagged “transgressor” tanker and directed it to the coastal waters of Iran in the Sea of Oman following an encounter with an Iranian vessel.

In a statement at the time, the Iranian army said the tanker collided with an Iranian vessel in Persian Gulf waters, injuring some Iranian crew members, with at least two still missing.

Also read: Iran seizes oil tanker in Gulf, US Navy says

The US Naval Forces Central Command, for its part, said the ship was seized "while transiting international waters in the Gulf of Oman.”

These incidents come amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington fueled by the stalemate over talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal as well as regional developments.

Iran has repeatedly called for the ouster of US forces from the region and a halt to America’s naval presence in regional waters.

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