In this frame grab from video footage released Friday April 28, 2023 by the Iranian Navy, Iranian marines rappel onto the Advantage Sweet, a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker’s deck in the Gulf of Oman. Iran’s navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday heading to the U.S. amid wider tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, the latest-such capture in a waterway crucial for global energy supplies. (Iranian Navy via AP)

 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Masked Iranian navy commandos conducted a helicopter-borne raid to seize a U.S.-bound oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, footage aired by Iran’s state television showed Friday.

The capture on Thursday of the Turkish-managed, Chinese-owned Advantage Sweet represents the latest seizure by Iran amid tensions with the U.S. over advancing nuclear program. While Tehran says the tanker was seized over it running into another Iranian vessel, it has provided no evidence yet to support the claim — and the Islamic Republic has taken other ships as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.

The footage showed the commandos descending on the deck of the Advantage Sweet by ropes from a hovering helicopter. A photograph showed one commando with his fist in the air after apparently taking the vessel.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet has said the Iranian seizure was at least the fifth commercial vessel taken by Tehran in the last two years.

“Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” it added.

The vessel’s manager, a Turkish firm called Advantage Tankers, issued a statement acknowledging the Advantage Sweet was “being escorted by the Iranian navy to a port on the basis of an international dispute.” All the ship’s 24 crew members are Indian.

“The safety and welfare of our valued crew members is our No. 1 priority,” the firm said. “Similar experiences show that crew members of vessels taken under such circumstances are in no danger.”

News from © The Canadian Press, 2023. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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Iran navy seizes tanker near Oman that was on way to Houston