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Iran Seizes Commercial Tanker in Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday seized a tanker in the Persian Gulf that is claimed to have been carrying smuggled fuel.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said Friday a vessel carrying 900 tons of smuggled fuel and a 12-man crew was seized by Revolutionary Guard’s navy patrol under a court order.

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet said in a statement, “The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forcibly seized a commercial vessel possibly engaged in smuggling activity.”

No further details were immediately available.

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command says it stopped Iran from seizing two commercial tankers earlier this week.

The Navy said the tankers were in international waters at the time -- one in the Gulf of Oman, the other 20 miles off the coast of Muscat, Oman, and traveling in international waters toward the Arabia Sea.

The Navy said that Iran backed off the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF Moss and Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager when the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul arrived on the scene.

Central Command said before it deployed toward the Richmond Voyager that “Iranian personnel fired multiple, long bursts from both small arms and crew-served weapons,” but there were “no casualties or significant damage.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of the entire [U.S. Naval Forces Central Command] team, especially the exceptional effort by the McFaul crew, for immediately responding and preventing another seizure,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces said. “We remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights in these critical waters.”

Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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