'Firm actions' on supertanker by Gibraltar send clear sanctions message: UK PM May's spokesman

Oil supertanker Grace 1 on suspicion of being carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria is pictured after being detained near Gibraltar, Spain in this screen grab obtained from a video on July 4, 2019. GIBRALTAR BROADCASTING CORPORATION/REUTERS TV via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain welcomed on Thursday the “firm actions” by Gibraltar to detain a supertanker on suspicion of carrying crude oil to Syria, saying the move sent a clear message that the violation of EU sanctions was unacceptable.

European Union sanctions against the government of Syria took effect in May 2011, shortly after the start of President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators that mushroomed into a protracted civil war.

“We welcome this firm action to enforce EU sanctions against the Syrian regime and commend those Gibraltarian authorities involved in successfully carrying out this morning’s operation,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said.

“This sends a clear message that violation of the sanctions is unacceptable.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison