The British navy says it prevented three Iranian paramilitary vessels from impeding the passage of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz early Thursday, a day after Iran's president warned of repercussions for the seizure of its own supertanker. Iran's Revolutionary Guard denied the allegations, saying if it had received orders to seize any ships it would have done so immediately, the AP reports. The UK government said in a statement that British navy vessel HMS Montrose had been accompanying the commercial ship, British Heritage, through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. "HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away," the government statement said.
The HMS Montrose is currently on a three-year mission at the British navy's support facility in Bahrain, the hub of Britain's naval operations east of the Suez Canal. The US 5th Fleet in Bahrain and Central Command declined to comment on the incident. The semi-official Fars news agency carried a statement from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy early Thursday saying there were no clashes with foreign ships, "especially British boats." Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, had recently warned that Britain would face "repercussions" over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker last week that authorities in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, suspect was breaching European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. The operation to seize the Iranian tanker took place a week ago at the request of the United States.
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