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Iran seizes oil tanker allegedly smuggling diesel fuel to UAE: ISNA

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Oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz on December 21, 2018.
Oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz on December 21, 2018. -
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Iran's Revolutionary Guard have reportedly seized an oil tanker en route to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported on Monday.

"It was detained near Iran's Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf...the crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province," ISNA wrote.

The number or nationalities of the crew members have not been disclosed.

The purported seizure comes just two days after several Saudi oil facilities were hit by drone strikes.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed the attacks but the United States have blamed Iran with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling "on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks."

Iran has denied the accusation.

The latest reported ship seizure by Iran follows a series of incidents involving shipping in and near the Gulf after U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports took full effect in May.

Iran stepped up its fight against smuggling fuel earlier this month when its coast guards seized a vessel for smuggling fuel in the Gulf and detained its 12 Filipino crew members. In July, Iran seized a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar accused of taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Iran's Adrian Darya 1, formerly Grace 1, was released last month. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that the British-flagged Steno Impero oil tanker will be released soon.

The incidents coincided with stepped up attacks by the Houthis on targets in Saudi Arabia.