Turkey says Iranian tanker sought by U.S. is headed to Lebanon
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuloğlu told Reuters on Friday that an Iranian oil tanker at the centre of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran was headed to Lebanon’s waters, after the vessel for a second time listed its destination as Turkey earlier in the day.
According to Refinitiv tracking data, the Adrian Darya, formerly called Grace 1, changed course several times before heading on Friday for Turkey’s Iskenderun port, 200 km (124 miles) north of Syria’s Baniyas refinery, the tanker’s suspected original destination, Reuters said.
The vessel previously had switched to a Turkish destination on Aug. 24 after Athens said it would not offer any facilities to the tanker, which was headed to the port of Kalamata in southern Greece.
Earlier on Friday, Çavuşoğlu told Reuters the ship was headed to Lebanon’s “main port”.
“I didn’t mean that this tanker is going to a Lebanese port, but (rather) according to the information coordinates it is heading to the territorial waters of the country,” Reuters quoted the minister as saying at an Oslo forum.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet late on Friday that the United States had reliable information that the tanker was underway and headed to Tartus, Syria.
British Royal Marines impounded the tanker in Gibraltar in July over suspicions that it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. The vessel was released off Gibraltar in mid-August after Iran assured Britain that the cargo was not headed to Syria.
Washington maintains the tanker is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which it designates as a terrorist group, and has told countries in the region not to assist it. The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday blacklisted the ship and sanctioned its captain.