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Iran ‘Forcibly Seizes’ Commercial Ship in Gulf

The U.S. Navy said on Thursday that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had captured a commercial ship in the Gulf after accusing Iranian forces of making two such attempts near the coast of Oman the day before.

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forcibly seized a commercial vessel possibly engaged in smuggling activity,” the Bahrain-based US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said in a statement.

According to the statement, US Marines kept watch on the incident in international waters but “assessed the circumstances of this event did not warrant further response.”

“U.S. forces remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights of lawful maritime traffic in the Middle East’s critical waters,” it said.

According to statistics from analytics company Vortexa, around a fifth of the world’s supply of seaborne crude oil and oil products goes through the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint between Iran and Oman.

The latest in a string of assaults on ships in the area since 2019, the U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday that it had intervened to stop Iran from capturing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

“U.S. forces remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights of lawful maritime traffic in the Middle East’s critical waters,” U.S. 5th Fleet spokesperson Commander Tim Hawkins said.

Since 2021, “Iran has harassed, attacked or seized nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels”, the U.S. Navy said.