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Iran To Release Crew Of Ship Linked To Israel


Iran’s Foreign Minister announced that the crew of the Portuguese-flagged ship MSC Aries has been granted consular access and is expected to be released soon.

The announcement by Hossein Amir-Abdollahian came during a telephone conversation with Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Rangel, as reported by the Iranian Foreign Ministry website on Saturday.

Amir-Abdollahian said that the crew would be turned over to their ambassadors in Tehran, though no specific timeline for the action was provided. Crew members hail from countries including India, Pakistan, Russia, the Philippines and Estonia.

The Iranian foreign ministry has accused the MSC Aries of “violating maritime laws” and maintains that the ship has links to Israel. The vessel is leased by MSC from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, which is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

The MSC Aries, carrying a crew of 25, was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz, on April 13, the same day that Iran launched its first direct attack on Israel, with an aerial bombardment of 350 drones and missiles towards the Jewish state.

It followed a suspected Israeli airstrike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1 which resulted in the death of a senior Quds Force commander and the deaths of several members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The hijacking coincides with the Iran-backed Houthis’ Red Sea blockade which began in November. A crew of 25 on the Galaxy Leader after its hijacking which saw commandos take over the ship in a multi-faceted operation from air and sea. The crew are still being held captive by the Yemeni group whose blockade aims to force a ceasefire on Israel.

Started as a campaign against Israeli shipping, instigated by Iran’s supreme leader, it has since expanded to global shipping, seeing 50 percent of shipping on the major trade route now re-routing via Africa.