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Iranian Tanker Pursued by US Switches Destination, Heads to Turkey

Iranian Tanker Pursued by US Switches Destination, Heads to Turkey

Saturday, 24 August, 2019 - 08:45
A crew member raises the Iranian flag on Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, as it sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its detention order, in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca
Asharq Al-Awsat
An Iranian tanker at the center of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran has changed its listed destination and is now heading to a port in Turkey instead of southern Greece, data from real-time ship tracking website MarineTraffic showed on Saturday.

The Adrian Darya, formerly called Grace 1, was released from detention off British territory Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions in mid-August.

The British Royal Marines seized the ship, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, on July 4 off Gibraltar.

The United States, which says the tanker is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, deemed a terrorist group by Washington, has told countries in the region not to assist it.

Previous data had shown that the vessel was heading to the port of Kalamata in Southern Greece. But new data from MarineTraffic on Saturday showed the vessel will now sail past Greece through the Mediterranean and dock at the southern Turkish port of Mersin - home to an oil terminal - on Aug. 31.

Greece had said it would not offer any facilities to the tanker after the State Department pressured it not to aid the vessel. The country's junior foreign minister said Wednesday that the vessel is too big to dock in Greece.

Experts said mariners can input any destination into the Automatic Identification System, so Turkey may not be the vessel's true destination. Mersin is some 200 kilometers northwest of a refinery in Baniyas, Syria, where authorities alleged the Adrian Darya had been heading before being seized off Gibraltar.

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