ROYAL Marines have been deployed as authorities in Gibraltar boarded a Syria-bound oil tanker suspected of breaching EU sanctions.

The Grace 1 had been carrying crude oil to the Banias refinery in Syria, the refinery is subject to European Union sanctions.

Fabian Picardo commended the bravery of the marine commandos involved in the operation to detain the super tanker.

“In the early hours of this morning, Gibraltar Port and Law Enforcement agencies, assisted by a detachment of Royal Marines, boarded a super tanker carrying crude oil to Syria.

“We have detained the vessel and its cargo.

“This action arose from information giving the Gibraltar Government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of European Union sanctions against Syria.

“In fact, we have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria. That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria,” said Picardo.

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CHIEF: Fabian Picardo praised the bravery of the marines

Picardo added that he had written to the president of the European Commission and European Council to give details of the sanctions that have been enforced.

“Be assured that Gibraltar remains safe, secure and committed to the international, rules-based, legal order,” he said.

EU sanctions on Syria cover finance, trade and transport and where imposed in response to the ongoing civil war raging in the country.

The UK Ministry of Defence has said it welcomed the ‘firm action’ by the Gibraltarian authorities.

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