The tanker with Iranian oil that has been held by British naval forces in Gibraltar for over a month will be released on Thursday, sources close to Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo told a British tabloid.
Picardo won’t apply to renew the detention order for the tanker Grace 1 in a court hearing on Thursday, sources told the Sun, as he has been convinced the vessel is not heading toward Syria after receiving a written note from the tanker’s captain.
The Panamanian-flagged tanker allegedly loaded with Iranian oil was seized by the Royal Marines in early July, after both the UK and Gibraltar accused it of violating EU sanctions against Syria.
Iran denied the charge and accused the British of acting on US orders, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”
The Iranian navy has since seized the British tanker Stena Impero as it was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, accusing the ship of violating maritime law.
London has signed on to a US-led “freedom of navigation” coalition that Washington claims is defensive even as it packs the Gulf with military assets including a carrier strike group, bomber task force, missile batteries, and thousands of troops. While the initiative is largely in the planning stages, having been panned by Washington’s European allies, Israel has also volunteered unspecified services after reaching an “agreement” with the UAE to counter Iranian “aggression.”
Iranian FM Javad Zarif has accused Washington and its allies of turning the region into a “matchbox ready to ignite” by “flooding it with weapons,” while Tehran has warned that Israel’s involvement could “spark a war.”
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