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US Says It Has Evidence Iranian Tanker Transferred Oil Cargo To Syria

A Satellite image reportedly shows the oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, near the port city of Tartus, September 6, 2019

The U.S. Sate Department said September 12 Washington has evidence that the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 has transferred its crude oil to the Syrian government, breaking assurances it gave not to sell crude to Damascus.

British Royal Marines on July 4 seized the vessel, formerly named the Grace 1, on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions. Gibraltar released it on Aug. 16 after getting written Iranian assurances that it would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria.

Britain's foreign ministry on Tuesday said the tanker had sold its crude oil to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, breaking those assurances, and that the oil had been transferred to Syria.

Iran's envoy to Britain, who was summoned by the British foreign ministry over the matter, on Wednesday said Adrian Darya 1's oil cargo was sold at sea to a private company, denying Tehran had broken assurances it gave. He also said the private buyer of the oil "sets the sale destination."

TankerTrackers, an international tanker-tracking firm said on September 10 analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery “shows a shadow angle that allowed us to calculate that the vessel is still fully laden in the water.”

Asked if the United States had evidence that the ship had offloaded its crude oil to Syria, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters: "Yeah ... The Iranian regime delivered oil to Syria, and that fuel goes straight into the tanks of troops that are slaughtering innocent Syrians."

Pressed on whether Washington had evidence of such a transfer from the Adrian Darya 1, Ortagus added: "I wouldn't say that if we didn't."

On Tuesday, the State Department had stopped short of confirming whether Iran had sold the oil to Assad's government, but strongly suggested it had.

Reporting by Reuters