Iran’s IRGC uses fast boats like these, shown during naval exercises in April 2010, to patrol the Strait of Hormuz and other Gulf waters. (Mehdi Marizad/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian Vessels Reportedly ‘Harass’ British Tanker in Gulf

Five boats believed manned by personnel from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) approached a British oil tanker, British Heritage, in the Gulf on Wednesday and requested that it stop in nearby Iranian waters, but withdrew after a British warship intervened, US officials said. This comes a week after British Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker, Grace 1, off Gibraltar on suspicion that it was breaking European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria. Iran denied the vessel was heading to that country. Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Britain would face “consequences” over the seizure of the Iranian tanker. The IRGC denied attempting to stop the British ship, stating: “In the past 24 hours, there has been no encounter with foreign ships, including English ships.” However, the British government countered that claim on Thursday, saying Iranian vessels indeed tried to block British Heritage from traversing the Strait of Hormuz but withdrew following a warning. An anonymous US official described the incident to Reuters as “harassment.” In May and June, several oil tankers in the Gulf region were allegedly attacked by the Islamic Republic. Tehran has denied any involvement.

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