The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a US military official said today.
The US Military's Central Command (CENTCOM) published a black and white video showing what appeared to be Iranian special forces boarding the ship.
Today in international waters, Iranian forces, including two ships and an Iranian "Sea King" helicopter, overtook and boarded a ship called the 'Wila.' pic.twitter.com/455UQ5jwHT
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) August 12, 2020
"The last position of the forces appeared to be off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates near the city of Khorfakkan," it said.
The helicopter involved appeared to be a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, which only Iran's navy operates. The Iranian navy also handles all operations in the Gulf of Oman on the eastern side of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 per cent of all global oil trade passes.
US military officials did not offer any reason for Iran seizing the vessel, while Iranian state media and officials did not immediately acknowledge the seizure or offer explanations.
Two other Iranian naval vessels took part in the seizure, Central Command said.
In July, a US-sought oil tanker was "hijacked" off the coast of the United Arab Emirates after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil. The vessel later ended up back in Iranian waters.
Last year, Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri said stability and security of the Strait of Hormuz are the country's red line.