WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- U.S. forces seized the tanker, Morning Glory, that left a rebel-held port in Libya with a cargo of illicit crude oil, the U.S. Defense Department said Monday.
Defense spokesman John Kirby said in a statement U.S. forces would escort the rogue vessel from the Mediterranean Sea back to a Libyan port.
"No one was hurt tonight when U.S. forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory, a stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans," he said.
Last week, rebel forces in eastern Libya loaded crude oil owned by Libya's state-run National Oil Co., which said Friday it couldn't meet its contractual commitments because of conflict in the rebel-held area.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki last week said the U.S. government was "deeply concerned" by the loading, adding the United States had a stake in some of Libya's oil interests.
Morning Glory is a North Korean-flagged vessel. Its ability to leave port despite a Libyan blockade led to members of the Libyan Parliament to pass a vote of no confidence for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
Libya has struggled to reach its pre-war production level of 1.6 million barrels of oil per day in part because of eastern conflicts.