Iran news LIVE: Tehran's navy commandos thwarted by crew after hijack bid –tensions boil

TENSIONS with Iran are at boiling point after Tehran’s navy commandos attempted to hijack an oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.

Iran: Expert says ‘tensions are very high right now’

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But after boarding the 440ft Asphalt Princess the military personnel were thwarted by crew who had anticipated their hijack. A source who was privy to official intelligence briefings on the incident said: “Armed Iranians stormed the vessel and tried to take it back to Iran but the crew scuppered the engines, so that is why it was shown bobbing in the water.

“Then US and Omani warships turned up and the Iranians got into some boats and went off.”

The source also added the crew remained safe and no one was badly injured.

A “squad” of heavily armed Iranians boarded the Asphalt Princess near the Strait of Hormuz but fleed when US and Omani warships approached the boat.

The Panama-flagged tanker sailed from Bandar Abbas, an Iranian Port and was destined for Sohar, Oman when it was intercepted 86 miles from Fujairah, in the UAE.

READ MORE: Iran war fears rocket following tanker hijack off UAE ‘tensions are very high right now’

Ebrahim Raisi is to be inaugurated President today

Ebrahim Raisi is to be inaugurated President today (Image: GETTY)

The hijack has triggered poorer relations between the West and the Middle East, especially as another hijack that killed a Briton and a Romanian happened only last week.

Iran denies any involvement in either hijack.

Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, is to be inaugurated today and has many extreme ideas for Iran’s leadership.

He is backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who were blamed for the deathly drone strike on the MT Mercer Street ship which killed British Army Veteran and father of one, Adrian Underwood.

Hassan Rouhani will hand over the Presidency today

Hassan Rouhani will hand over the Presidency today (Image: GETTY)

Iran wants to dominate the global stage

Iran wants to dominate the global stage (Image: GETTY)

Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary tweeted: “The council must respond to Iran’s destabilising actions and lack of respect for international law.”

Just as allies and the USA joined in backing a response to Iran’s aggression.

Ebrahim Raisi, 60, said he seeks to end the “tyranny” of US sanctions against Iran and vowed his country would not bend to the “will of foreigners.”

Britain has said it was “highly likely” that Iran was responsible for the hijack and drone strikes so was discussing a “concerted response” with fellow allies.

The Mercer Street tanker saw two killed

The Mercer Street tanker saw two security guards killed (Image: GETTY)

11:34 Israel accuses Saeed Ara Jani of drone attack

The Israeli government on Wednesday accused an Iranian military officer, Saeed Ara Jani, of being responsible for the drone attack on the MV Mercer Street tanker, claiming he was the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ drone unit.

Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said: “For the first time ever, I will also expose the man who is directly responsible for the launch of suicide UAVs [unmanned vehicles] – his name is Saeed Ara Jani and he is the Head of the IRGC’s UAV Command.”

Benny Gantz continued: “The UAV command conducted the attack on Mercer Street. Saeed Ara Jani plans and provides the training and equipment to conduct terror attacks in the region,” 

11:06 Washington DC holds memorial for Iranians lost under Raisi

A powerful photo exhibition of portraits in tribute to the victims of  the 1988 massacre was held in Washington DC on Tuesday. 

Over 30,000 Iranian political prisoners were tortured or killed in the crime against humanity signed off by Ebrahim Raisi. 

11:00 Iranians protest against Raisi becoming President

A protest was held to demonstrate outrage at Ebrahim Raisi becoming the Iranian President.

10:30 Israeli government accuse Iranian officer of drone attacks

The Israeli government have accused an Iranian military officer, Saeed Ara Jani, as responsible for the drone attack on the MV Mercer Street, claiming he was the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ drone unit.

Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said: “For the first time ever, I will also expose the man who is directly responsible for the launch of suicide UAVs [unmanned vehicles] – his name is Saeed Ara Jani and he is the Head of the IRGC’s UAV Command.”

Benny Gantz continued: “The UAV command conducted the attack on Mercer Street. Saeed Ara Jani plans and provides the training and equipment to conduct terror attacks in the region.”

10:16 Hijacking may be over a financial issue

There was good reason for confusion as the Asphalt Princess tanker is not a typical target in the Israeli-Iranian conflict that has blighted shipping in these waters for six months

The Asphalt Princess is small at just 9500 deadweight tons, so is tiny next to the enormous super tanker that travel the gulf of Hormuz daily.

It also has no obvious link to either Iran or Israel unlike the MV Mercer, the Israeli-linked modern super tanker attacked by drones the previous week.

Many are now speculating that the hijacking was over a financial dispute or fuel smuggling. 

09:49 Call from Asphalt Princess emerges

Crew on the hijacked Asphalt Princess called the Emirati coast guards upon realising they had been taken over.

“We have Iranian people on board with ammunition, and we are drifting,” one confused crew member said in the call to the Emirati coastguard.

The crew said the boarding party was “around five to six people.”

When asked what the Iranians were doing on board, the crewmember said he “did not understand” them and suggested the coastguards talk to the boarding party directly.

Crew members disabled the ship’s engine to make it look irretrievably damaged. The Iranian boarding party could not figure out a way to get it started again.

09:46 Israel VS Iran tensions rise

Today, Israeli jets struck what they’ve said were rocket launch sites in Lebanon  in response to two rockets fired towards Israel from Lebanese territory.

This signals an escalation of cross-border hostilities amid heightened tensions with Iran.

The rockets launched from Lebanon on Wednesday struck open areas in northern Israel, causing brush fires along the hilly frontier.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, launched from an area of south Lebanon under the sway of Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas.

Israel responded with several rounds of artillery fire on Wednesday before launching air strikes early on Thursday morning, the military said.

The military said: “(Military) fighter jets struck the launch sites and infrastructure used for terror in Lebanon from which the rockets were launched.”

09:15 Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s President Elect is under US Human Rights restrictions

Ebrahim Raisi is under U.S. sanctions over allegations of human rights abuse when he was a judge.

He has however, promised to lift tough U.S. sanctions that have cut Iran’s oil exports and have shut it out of the international banking system.

Ebrahim was appointed by Khamenei to run the judiciary in 2019, but placed under U.S. sanctions a few months later for the role he allegedly played in the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. 

However, Iran has never acknowledged the killings.

Since his election, Raisi has said the U.S. sanctions were imposed on him for doing his job as a judge.

Dissidents fear his presidency could create even more repression in Iran.

08:35 UK Foreign Secretary asks new Iranian President to shed his “pariah status”

Dominic Raab has called on Iran’s new President to shed his “pariah status” and work with the West.

Ebrahim Raisi has become known as ‘The Butcher of Tehran’ and is an Iranian conservative Islamist and principlist politician.

The British Foreign Secretary added: “Under this new president, there is an opportunity to take steps to build up some confidence and goodwill with the rest of the international community, or take steps further and further into pariah status.”

Mr Raab vowed that the UK would be “calm and composed, but we’re absolutely resolute and robust in terms of dealing with the nefarious conduct that we’ve seen”

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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