Iran seizes British-owned ship in major escalation


Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commandos seized an British-owned, Israeli-affiliated ship near the Strait of Hormuz on April 13th, according to AP. Tehran claims Revolutionary Guard naval units boarded the MSC Aries by helicopter, and that it was being taken into Iranian waters.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) confirmed that the British-owned vessel had been captured near the strait at 6:43AM UAE time.

British maritime security company Ambrey reported a “boarding incident at the same location without giving further details, according to Reuters.

UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said the vessel has be seized 50 nautical miles (92km) northeast of the Fujairah, and area close to the Strait of Hormuz that forms the entrance to the Persian Gulf. MSC claimed the ship had 25 crew aboard and that it was “working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their well-being, and the safe return of the vessel.”

READ: US military chief in Israel to discuss Iran threats

MSC purportedly leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of British- firm Zodiac Maritime, partially owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

In response to the reports, Israeli military spokesperson Real Admiral Daniel Hagari said “Iran will bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further.”

The seizure is a major escalation amid soaring tensions between Israel and Iran after the April 1st assassination of senior Revolutionary Guard figure, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, and five other Iranian officers by Israel, in Damascus. Naval Revolutionary Guard head, Alireza Tangsiri, stated on April 9th, that Iran was prepared to close the Hormuz Strait, if necessary.

READ: Israel prepares for Iranian retaliation with dril

Marine traffic has already seen major disruption due to attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, in solidarity with Hamas, the Palestinian militia under siege by Israeli forces in Gaza. The US and UK have been engaged in a retaliatory bombing campaign against the Houthis, while a US-EU coalition force have been deployed to the region to protect commercial ships.

AP / Reuters.

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