BEIRUT, August 4. /TASS/. The tanker capture incident in the Gulf of Oman looks like a false flag operation - a provocation that is designed to discredit a third party, the Maritime Bulletin website said in its op-ed on the Asphalt Princess incident. During the incident, the tanker was allegedly captured by unknown armed men, who later abandoned the ship.
According to an earlier report, the Asphalt Princess was "attacked and captured" by nine armed men on August 3 near the UAE port of Fujairah.
"According to hysterical reports, [the tanker] started to move in the direction of Iran," the website says. "British BBC and the rest of the pack have no doubt already, that the tanker was "hijacked" by Iranian forces. Iran strongly denies any involvement in this mysterious incident, and rightly so."
About the tanker
"Asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess, operated by UAE-based company, is an old rusty bucket of a very dignified age of some 45 years," the website says. "There’s no AIS records history, the tanker emerged on the radar shortly before the ‘hijack’ on Jul 29, drifting off Fujairah UAE - Sohar Oman, and went off the radar again, to reappear on Aug 3, when she was ‘hijacked’."
"The tanker’s value is something close to the value of scrap metal, so what very stupid criminal will choose her as the most suitable target for hijacking?" the website notes.
"Iran has absolutely nothing to gain by this very stupid, senseless "hijack", except a bunch of new problems and troubles," it states. "This incident bears all the marks of false flag operation. [The] UK is the most outspoken state so far, so it is highly likely, that the ‘incident’ was organized and is carried out by the UK and other interested states, such as Israel, NATO states, and the US."
On Wednesday, the UK Maritime Trade Operation reported that the tanker incident was over and that the perpetrators had left the ship, without mentioning the ship’s name. Prior to that, Sky News reported the capture of the Asphalt Princess tanker, citing security sources. According to the report, the ship was captured by about nine armed people. According to The Times, British intelligence agencies believe that the Iranian military or its allies could be involved in the incident.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has categorically denied all allegations that the Iranian military could have boarded the ship.