Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reportedly made an abortive effort to capture a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday.

However, the attempt was foiled by a British warship escorting the tanker, according to U.S. defense sources.

Reports said five boats belonging to the IRGC approached a British oil tanker in the Gulf and asked the UK oil tanker to halt in Iranian waters.

The escorting UK warship was less than 5 miles behind the tanker when it intercepted the Iranian boats.

The frigate HMS Montrose trained deck guns on Iranians and asked them to back off or get shot. The warship was equipped with 30 mm guns on deck.

A manned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was flying above, the U.S official said, adding that Iranians fled without opening fire.

Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said the military was aware of the reported actions.

Britain's Defence Ministry did not comment.

Iran’s retaliation

This was the latest provocation by Iran in the series of maritime tensions with the U.S and West.

Iran was annoyed with Britain after the seizure of its supertanker by British forces last week for violating European Union sanctions. The vessel was allegedly carrying oil to Syria and was captured in Gibraltar.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned Britain of serious repercussions.

Many U.S. officials had been pointing fingers at Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the gulf. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on record accusing Iran of trying to disrupt the flow of oil in the region.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. escalated after President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran.

Iran also announced that it is reneging from the commitments in the nuclear deal. On Monday it said the 3.6 percent limit of uranium enrichment has been breached.

While Iran wanted the five other signatories to the nuclear deal to provide its economic incentives for downsizing the nuclear program, the U.S urged them not to oblige.

iran us oil tanker
A picture obtained by AFP from Iranian News Agency ISNA on June 13, 2019 reportedly shows fire and smoke billowing from Norwegian owned Front Altair tanker said to have been attacked in the waters of the Gulf of Oman. -/AFP/Getty Images

The US forging a military coalition in the Gulf

Meanwhile, the U.S. said on Tuesday that it is working to forge a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen.

According to the U.S, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, the coalition will come up with a system to enforce freedom of navigation and confront the threats from Iran.

“We are engaging with several countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab el Mandeb,” Dunford elaborated.

In another strategic move, the U.S, special representative for Iran, Brian Hook told CNN that the U.S. is looking for a better treaty and he will be submitting a draft to the Senate.