British media and government have just invented a new PR victory over Iran in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to take control of the British oil tanker as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz, The Sun reported on July 10 citing “US officials”.
“But HMS Montrose quickly trained its 30mm deck guns on the enemy boats and warned them off, they added.
The British Heritage tanker was being escorted through the flashpoint region by the Montrose amid feverish tensions between Iran and the West.
But the Navy frigate rallied into action when the rival boats approached the oil tanker and demanded it change course into Iranian waters.
According to the anonymous officials, the Montrose came up from the rear of the tanker and aimed its weapons at the Iranians – before issuing a verbal warning to get away,” The Sun claimed.
The Royal Navy HMS Montrose allegedly “pointed it guns at the boats and warned them over radio, at which point they dispersed”, the article quoted the anonymous US official.
Later, the British government supported the media report by an official statement
“Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz,” the British government statement said.
“HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away. We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”
In own turn, the IRGC rejected the British claims that its forces had attempted to seize the tanker.
“Patrols by the IRGC’s Navy vessels have been underway in the Persian Gulf based on current procedures and missions assigned to them with vigilance, precision and strength,” the Public Relations Department of the IRGC Navy’s Fifth Naval Zone said.
“In the past 24 hours, there has been no encounter with foreign ships, including British ones,” it added.
The IRGC’s Navy added that its fifth zone does have capabilities to act “decisively and swiftly” and seize foreign vessels in the area it is tasked with patrolling if an order is issued to that effect.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that those who make such claims attempt to “cover up their weak point”.
“Apparently the British tanker has passed. What they have said themselves and the claims that have been made are for creating tension and these claims have no value,” he noted.
On July 4, British marines seized an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar under the pretext that the vessel had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against the Arab country.
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