UK and US officials claimed that Iranian gunboats attempted to intercept and alter the course of a British oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz on Wednesday, July 10. The incident occurred in the afternoon (local time) when the gunboats encircled the tanker and tried to lead it into Iranian waters. A UK Royal Navy ship in the area responded and defused the situation. The Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) denied the incident. Further incidents involving tankers, Iranian, and Western forces are likely in the coming weeks and months; an escalation of provocative activity is also possible and may affect shipping and flight routes in the area.
On Thursday, July 7, an Iranian oil tanker was detained near the Straits of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating sanctions on Syria. Iran threatened to retaliate and seize a British tanker if the UK does not release their ship.
Tensions between Iran and the West, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, have escalated in recent months. In June 2019, Iranian forces were blamed for attacking two oil tankers that were traversing the Straits of Hormuz. Later that month, a US military drone in the area was shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missiles.
Individuals in the region are advised to keep abreast of the geopolitical situation.
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