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The Navy of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has prevented an attempt by the U.S. to seize an Iranian tanker in the Sea of Oman and "confiscate" its oil, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Wednesday, citing local media.
According to the reports, "the US had seized an Iranian oil tanker in the Sea of Oman, transferred its oil to another tanker, and taken the tanker to an unknown place."
Iranian media say that the IRGC later regained control of the Iranian oil tanker in an operation involving helicopters.
U.S. forces reportedly pursued the Iranian tanker with warships and helicopters, IRNA reports, without specifying when the incident had taken place.
U.S. forces didn't seize the tanker from IRGC, and the vessel is now in Iranian waters, the news agency adds.
Iranian state television has described the reported skirmish as a failed attempt of the U.S. to "steal" oil, Reuters reports.
Waters offshore Oman were the scene of a major incident at the end of July this year when tensions in the Middle East escalated after a drone attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street, which killed two crew members. Israel, the United States, and the UK blamed Iran for the attack.
"Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement at the time.
The Middle East tensions further escalated a week later, when a tanker carrying bitumen was the target of a hijacking attempt in the Gulf of Oman in early August, in which the vessel was ordered to travel to Iran.
In the summer, just as Iran's new president Ebrahim Raisi was being sworn in, the Islamic Republic responded to the accusations about the drone attack by saying it would deliver a "strong and crushing" military response to any hostile move against it.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com