Iranian fuel tanker attacked by drone, Israel suspected

The report comes following recent escalations between Iran and Israel with regard to multiple tanker attacks.

An Iranian tanker was reportedly attacked off the Syrian coast on Saturday, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It was unclear what had happened, as Iran media was slow to report details. However, the Syrian state media did quote an oil ministry member as saying a fire took place on “what was believed to be an attack by a drone.”

Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam TV said there was some damage to an Iranian tanker but no casualties. But Iran’s Tasnim news agency, quoting “certain sources,” said: “The accident happened to another vessel…and is not linked to a ship carrying Iranian cargo.”

The pro-Damascus al-Mayadeen TV said the tanker was suspected to have been hit by an Israeli drone. The Israeli military declined to comment on the incident.

In March, a Wall Street Journal story said that Israel had struck “dozens” of Iranian vessel bound for Syria. Iran said it had a right to retaliate on March 15.

In early April, an Iranian ship believed to serve as an IRGC mother ship and used for surveillance and possibly terror operations, was struck in the Red Sea. Iran blamed Israel and the US for the attack on the Saviz ship, which it denied was a mother ship.

Several Israeli-owned ships have also been attacked, allegedly by Iran. One was reported struck on April 13 and others were hit on February 26 and also March 25. The attacks targeted the Helios Ray and Hyperian Ray. Iran also vowed revenge for what it said was “nuclear terror” on its Natanz enrichment facility on April 12. Iran has been angered by the ship attacks.

The recent incident off Syria, if it occurred, leads to many questions.

News about the attack on the ship off the coast of Syria relies on Syria’s oil ministry for information. It said that firefighting teams managed to extinguish a fire in one of the tanks of an oil tanker off the coastal city of Baniyas after a suspected drone attack from Lebanese territorial waters, state media reported, according to Reuters.

The use of drones is increasing in the Middle East. US Central Command head Kenneth McKenzie warned about Iran’s proliferation of drones in the region and how these drones can lead to the US losing air superiority. The Syrian tanker that may have been attacked by a drone would be one of the first examples of a drone attack on a ship. Iran and the Syrian regime are allies so it is not likely Iran attacked the ship. Other countries in the region use drones.

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