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Iranian tanker switches destinations and heads to Turkey, marine tracker says

Adrian Darya-1 was released from detention off Gibraltar after standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions
Iranian tanker Adrian Darya-1 was formerly called Grace 1 (AFP/file photo)

An Iranian tanker involved in a confrontation between Washington and Tehran has switched destinations and is heading to Turkey instead of southern Greece, data from real-time ship tracking website MarineTraffic showed on Saturday.

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

Iran has denied the tanker was ever headed to Syria.

Washington has asked countries in the region not to assist it.

The US claims the tanker is controlled through a network of front companies by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which are the target of its sanctions and have been designated a terrorist organisation, the Guardian reported.

Previous data had shown that the vessel, which is fully laden with oil, was heading to the port of Kalamata in Southern Greece.

Iranian tanker involved in standoff with West leaves Gibraltar: Shipping data
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Greece had said it would not offer any facilities to the tanker.

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 on 31 August.

The initial impounding of the tanker sparked a diplomatic row that escalated when Tehran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later. That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.

The two vessels became pawns in a bigger game, feeding into wider hostilities since the US last year pulled out of an international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme, and reimposed economic sanctions.

Iran has denounced US efforts to set up an international maritime security coalition in the Gulf and insisted regional countries could protect the strategic waterway and work towards signing a non-aggression pact.