UK: Iranian ships tried to block tanker

UK: Iranian ships tried to block tanker
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The British Navy on Thursday said that Iranian paramilitary vessels had unsuccessfully tried to block the passage of a British oil tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, The Associated Press reported.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) denied the allegation, saying it would have seized the ship if ordered.

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A U.S. official told the AP the military has video imagery of the incident.

The United Kingdom said in a statement that the British naval vessel HMS Montrose had been accompanying the commercial ship, British Heritage, through the narrow strait.

“HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” the statement said, per the AP.

“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region."

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) spokesman Capt. Bill Urban told the AP that Centcom was aware of reports of “harassment and attempts to interfere with” the passage of the British Heritage by the IRGC.

The alleged incident comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran and tit-for-tat escalations.

The Trump administration has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier and advanced fighter jets to the region while accusing Iran of attacking oil tankers. Iran has denied the allegations.