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Iran releases oil tanker it seized after alleged clash with the US

The Revolutionary Guard reported the release of the Vietnamese ship Sothy after unloading the crude oil it was carrying
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An image obtained by AFP from Iran's Tasnim news agency on January 4, 2021, shows the South Korean-flagged oil tanker being escorted by Iran's Revolutionary Guard navy after being seized in the G  -   AFP/ TASNIM NEWS

Iran announced on Wednesday that it has released the oil tanker it captured after an alleged clash with the United States, which it accused of trying to "steal" crude oil from it, something Washington described as "fallacious".

The Revolutionary Guard reported the release of the Vietnamese vessel Sothy after unloading the crude oil it was carrying, after an Iranian court ordered it, according to military sources quoted by the local Tasnim news agency.

The revolutionary body gave no information about the court order or when the tanker was allowed to leave.

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AFP/ ATTA KENARE  -  On 16 September, Iran seized a ship suspected of being used for fuel smuggling and arrested its 11 crew members near the vital Strait of Hormuz oil shipping route, state television reported.

Tehran claimed last week that it captured the Sothys on 24 October in the Sea of Oman after the US allegedly hijacked an Iranian tanker and passed its fuel cargo to the Vietnamese vessel.
According to the Iranian account, Revolutionary Guard troops seized control of the Sothys and took it to the port of Bandar Abbas.

US forces in helicopters and warships pursued the tanker but were unable to give chase and "surrendered", according to Tehran.

The US government dismissed the Iranian accusation as "fallacious” but stressed that on 24 October the US Navy monitored Iranian forces illegally boarding and capturing a merchant ship in the international waters of the Gulf of Oman without interfering in the incident

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These allegations came hours before Iran and the European Union announced the resumption of negotiations in Vienna to save the 2015 nuclear deal on 29 November, after five months of discussions stalled by the Iranian presidential election.