Iran briefly seizes oil tanker near Strait of Hormuz

The ship was seized for about five hours on Wednesday before being released.

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January 2018 photo of Tehran, Iran
Tehran, Iran
Getty Images/ATTA KENARE
Updated: August 13, 2020 - 9:09am

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The Iranian navy briefly boarded and seized an oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, according to U.S. military officials. The tanker was flying Liberian flags.

The MT Wila reportedly was held by Iranian forces for five hours on Wednesday before being released. The ship made no distress calls throughout the duration of the event.

The helicopter used to execute the seizure appeared to be a model used exclusively by Iran's navy, and the movement took place on the eastern side of the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman, where Iran's navy handles all operations. 

It is unclear why the Iranian navy took brief control of the vessel. 

The Wila is registered to a Liberian shipping firm that is, in turn, managed by a Greek firm. It is not yet known what type of cargo the ship was carrying, though 20% of all oil traded globally passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

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