Alert for Iraqi tankers off Crete
A warning has been issued by US authorities, which claimed that three fuel tankers with top Iraqi officials on board, have set sail from a Middle Eastern Port, and are believed to be heading for Greek waters. Sources revealed yesterday, that the Greek Coast Guard has been placed on high alert after this tip off.
Yesterday, US Ambassador Thomas Miller, further asked Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, to send Greek military medical personnel as well as stores to British and US occupied Iraq. Papantoniou avoided any form of commitment to this request, stating that participation in this mission would hinge on the fact whether the entire effort is organized by the United Nations or not.
Coast guard sources, meanwhile reported that sea and air patrol frequencies have increased, in response to the tip off by US authorities. According the rumors, senior Baath Party officials and their families may have escaped US and British forces that are currently in Iraq, by boarding these tankers from an unspecified port in an Arab country.
According to the information provided by the US, it is believed that the tankers are heading for the European Union Port, and will pass through international waters, to the south of Crete, within the coming few days. Though, if the US and NATO warships patrolling the area locate the tankers, there are chances that they will enter Greek territorial waters.
Top of the line Coast Guard vessels, manned by special forces, are already heading towards Crete from the eastern Aegean, these include patrol boats equipped with state of the art tracking devices. Working in cooperation with NATO officials as well as the Greek Navy, the Coast Guard is prepared to handle all situations.