Iran to free 7 crew from detained British-flagged tanker

In total, 23 crew were detained when their ship was boarded by Iran's Revolutionary Guards

FILE - In this July 21, 2019 file photo, a speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero, which was seized by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. The U.S. Navy is trying to put together a new coalition of nations to counter what it sees as a renewed maritime threat from Iran. Meanwhile, Iran finds itself backed into a corner and ready for a possible conflict. It stands poised on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, to further break the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. (Hasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency via AP, File)
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Iran says it will free seven of the 23 detained crewmembers of the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker on "humanitarian" grounds, a spokesman for the foreign ministry told state TV.

Abbas Mousavi said that the seven men would be allowed to leave the country soon.

There was no indication why the seven would be released or what would happen to the other 16 members of the ship’s company.

Iran detained the Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, two weeks after the Gibraltar government detained the Iranian Grace 1 tanker on suspicion of violating EU sanctions by transporting oil to Syria.

The UK government has insisted the two situations are not linked, saying that the detention of the Grace 1 was in accordance with the law and to enforce international sanctions while the Stena Impero was taken in an international shipping channel unlawfully.

The UK has deployed additional warships to the Gulf region and warned British-flagged vessels about navigating the channel without an escort.