Sun, 20 Sep 2020

The Iranian Navy has boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. military's Central Command (CENTCOM) says, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the United States.

CENTCOM published a black-and-white video on August 13 showing what appeared to be special forces fast-roping down from a helicopter onto the MV Wila, whose last position appeared to be off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates near the city of Khorfakkan.

The vessel was held by the Iranian Navy for about five hours before being released on August 12, a U.S. military official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The Wila made no distress calls before, during and after the seizure, the official said.

The U.S. military officials did not offer any reason for Iran seizing the vessel. Iranian state media and officials did not immediately acknowledge the seizure or offer a reason for it.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated since the Washington in 2018 withdrew from an international nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed crushing sanctions.

With reporting by AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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