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Gibraltar detains oil tanker headed for Syria

Gibraltar detains oil tanker headed for Syria

The tanker is believed to have been transporting crude oil from Iran to Syria, which would violate both US and EU sanctions. It may have been intercepted in Spanish waters.

A supertanker suspected of transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions was detained Thursday off the coast of the British territory of Gibraltar, authorities said.

According to the shipping intelligence publication Lloyd's List, which had been tracking the ship, the Panamanian-flagged tanker is thought to have been transporting crude oil from Iran. Gibraltar authorities have yet to specify where the tanker's load originated, only that they had "reason to believe" that it was carrying a shipment of oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria.

"That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria," said Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo. The refinery is a Syrian government-owned facility controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad, and falls under the EU's Syrian Sanctions Regime.

The vessel, named Grace 1, was boarded in the early morning hours Thursday 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) off the Gibraltar coast after it slowed down in a designated area used to ferry goods on board ships. Gibraltar is located on the Mediterranean Sea at the southern the tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

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