British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday, they suspected the tanker was headed to Syria which would be a violation of U.S. and EU sanctions. The Grace 1 oil tanker was believed to have started its journey in Iran.
"That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria," Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said. "With my consent, our port and law enforcement agencies sought the assistance of the Royal Marines in carrying out this operation."
Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the British detained the tanker at the request of the U.S.
About 30 Royal Marines boarded the tanker, some descended down on ropes from a helicopter, others came alongside the tanker in a speedboat.
The U.S. and EU have imposed a series of sanctions against the Syrian government, resulting in an acute fuel shortage this past winter. Syrians struggled to heat their homes, the Assad government had to set up oil rationing and any country that tried to relieve them of the shortage was threatened with U.S. sanctions.
The Syrian fuel shortages began when Iran froze their credit for oil last October, citing the Islamic Republic’s own problems due to U.S. sanctions.
Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.