On Thursday, Gibraltar detained an oil tanker headed to Syria and suspected of attempting to deliver its oil cargo despite EU sanctions. The British territorial government announced its detention.
The Gibraltar authorities detained the Grace 1 vessel in the early hours of Thursday. Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, boarded the vessel.
According to the shipping trade publication Lloyd’s List, the Grace 1 is a Panamanian-flagged tanker. The maritime intelligence British company said the tanker is carrying oil from Iran to Syria.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said in a statement:
OIL TANKER WARS
The seizure of the oil tanker comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East. To include a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf the United States accused Iran to carry out. The seizure also represents a blow to the Assad regime as it maneuvers global sanctions that have crippled Syria.’s economy and bled its treasury.
European Union sanctions against Syria have been in force since late 2011, and the EU renews them annually.
The 28-member EU bloc has imposed sanctions on 277 Syrian officials. The sanctions cover government ministers over their role in the deadly and violent repression of Syrian civilians seeking freedom from the brutal Assad regime.
It has frozen the assets of some 72 entities and introduced an embargo on Syrian oil. Additionally, it introduced investment restrictions and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the European Union.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory. It is a small rocky outcrop on Spain’s southern tip and Morocco’s northern coastal areas.