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Iranian Tanker Headed To Lebanon, Not Turkey Minister Says


An Iranian flag flutters on board the Adrian Darya oil tanker, formerly known as Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on August 18, 2019.

An Iranian oil tanker at the center of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran changed course again on Friday and instead of Turkey, was heading to Lebanon, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.

Earlier, tanker-tracking data showed Adrian Darys, formerly Grace 1 was heading to Turkey's Iskandarun port, but Cavusoglu said, "This tanker is not heading actually to Iskenderun (in Turkey), this tanker is heading to Lebanon," Cavusoglu said during a visit to Oslo.

The tanker has changed course several times in recent days, heading to Greece, then away and then again toward Turkey.

However, Lebanon's Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalili told Reuters, "We have not been informed of the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya heading (here)".

Carrying 2 million barrels of oil, the Adrian Darya was released from detention off Gibraltar in mid-August after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

The U.S., which says the tanker is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards it considers a terrorist group, has warned countries in the region not to assist the vessel.

An Iranian government spokesman was quoted on Monday as saying Iran had sold the oil aboard the tanker and that the vessel's owner, whose identity he did not disclose, would decide its destination.

After its release, it stated that its destination was the Greek port of Kalamata, then Turkey's Mersin. On Thursday, it abruptly changed course, making almost a U-turn away from the Turkish coast.

While west of Cyprus on Friday morning, it did a similar maneuver, doubling back on itself.

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