The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has seized two cargo ships in the Persian Gulf and detained 34 foreign crew members on suspicion of fuel smuggling, Iranian state media report.
The IRGC said on December 6 that one ship carrying 2.28 million liters of fuel was intercepted near Abu Musa Island, while the other carried 2.3 million liters of fuel.
It did not disclose the nationalities of the sailors or the ships' countries of origin.
Over the past two years, Iranian forces have "attacked, harassed, or seized" more than 20 commercial ships in the region, according to the US.
On July 7, the IRGC claimed to have captured a ship carrying 900 tons of smuggled fuel, detaining its 12 foreign crew members.
The Iranian Navy also seized a Swiss tanker in May, alleging it had colluded with an Iranian barge.
The latest ship seizures by the IRGC come days after several commercial ships came under fire and a US Navy destroyer shot down three drones in the Red Sea on December 3, according to US Central Command.
While the attacks were carried out by Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Islamic Republic “is the ultimate party responsible for this,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on December 5.
Tehran denied any involvement in the assault.
In response to the attacks, the White House said that the US may establish a naval task force with its allies to escort commercial ships in the Red Sea.