Royal Marines help seize supertanker carrying oil to Syria

A detachment of Royal Marines and the authorities in Gibraltar have seized a supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.

The UK Government welcomed the “firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities” in intercepting the Grace 1.

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, praised the “brave men and women” from the Royal Marines and the local agencies involved in the operation.

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He said: “In the early hours of this morning, Gibraltar port and law enforcement agencies, assisted by a detachment of Royal Marines, boarded a supertanker carrying crude oil to Syria.

“We have detained the vessel and its cargo. This action arose from information giving the Gibraltar government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of EU sanctions against Syria.

“In fact we have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria.”

The EU has imposed a series of sanctions against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria in response to the conflict in the country.

Mr Picardo added: “I want to thank the brave men and women of the Royal Marines, the Royal Gibraltar Police, HM Customs Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Port Authority for their work in securing the detention of this vessel and its cargo.

“Be assured that Gibraltar remains safe, secure and committed to the international rules-based legal order.”

The Foreign Office said in a statement: “We welcome this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime.”