Gibraltar raid sees Royal Marines seize supertanker ‘taking Iranian oil to Syria in breach of sanctions’

BRITISH troops today swooped on a Syria-bound supertanker in the waters off Gibraltar over fears it was violating strict EU sanctions.

The vessel – carrying Iranian oil – was boarded in the early hours by local cops and customs agents aided by a detachment of the Royal Marines.

The vessel - carrying Iranian oil - was halted in the early hours off Gibraltar
John Sanchez

The vessel – carrying Iranian oil – was halted in the early hours off Gibraltar[/caption]

“We have reason to believe that the ‘Grace 1’ was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria,” said the territory’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria. We have detained the vessel and its cargo.”

Mr Picardo also praised  the bravery of those who detained the ship.

“Be assured that Gibraltar remains safe, secure and committed to the international, rules-based, legal order,” he added.

It’s believed the ship left Iran in mid-April and was heading to Syria by sailing around Africa.

Mr Picardo said he has now written to the presidents of the European Commission and European Council to give details of the sanctions that have been enforced.

The EU Syrian Sanctions Regime, established in May 2011, comprises financial, trade and transport sanctions.

The bloc imposed sanctions on 277 Syrian officials including government ministers over their role in the “violent repression” of civilians.

It has also introduced an embargo on Syrian oil, investment restrictions and a freeze on Syrian bank assets within the EU.

The Foreign Office said in a statement: “We welcome this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime.”

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo praised  the bravery of those who detained the ship
Reuters

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo praised  the bravery of those who detained the ship[/caption]

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, a small rocky outcrop on Spain's southern tip
Alamy

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, a small rocky outcrop on Spain’s southern tip[/caption]

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