Israel blames Iran for drone attack on oil tanker in Gulf of Oman



CNN

Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of carrying out a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, in what one official described as an “Iranian provocation in the Persian Gulf” linked to the World Cup in Qatar.

The autonomous drone on Monday around 10 p.m. attacked the Liberian-flagged Israeli oil tanker Pacific Zircon, but did not cause significant damage, a US military official told CNN. The drone did not disable the ship or interrupt its journey, the US official said.

An Israeli official said the weapon was an Iranian “HESA Shahed 136 self-destruct drone, the same ones used in Ukraine.” Iran has sent its fighter drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, underscoring how far Iran has advanced its attack drone technology.

“We see this as a provocation by Iran in the Gulf – it’s not an attack on Israel – it’s what they usually do in the Gulf, trying to destabilize and mainly affect the events of the World Cup,” said an Israeli official who asked not to be allowed. named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

U.S. Central Command later said in a statement that “exploitation of debris on board revealed that it was a Shahed series one-way attack drone.”

“This drone strike against a civilian vessel in this critical strait demonstrates once again the destabilizing nature of Iran’s malign activities in the region,” US Central Command commander Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla said in a statement.

According to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the ship’s operating company, there were no casualties.

“We are in contact with the vessel and there are no reports of injuries or pollution. The entire crew is safe and accounted for,” it said on Wednesday. “The ship’s hull is slightly damaged, but there is no cargo or water spillage.

Marine traffic on Monday showed the tanker’s last known location off the coast of Oman near Liwa.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Iran was likely behind the drone attack, saying that while there was “no justification for this attack”, it was “the latest pattern of such actions and broader destabilizing activities”.

“After reviewing the available information, we are confident that Iran most likely carried out this attack using UAVs, a lethal capability that it is increasingly using directly and through its proxies in the Middle East and is spreading to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Sullivan said.

He warned that the actions threatened international shipping, trade and “freedom of navigation in this important waterway”.

CNN has reached out to the Iranian government for comment.

The weapon and target fit a pattern of past attacks linked to Iran. in 2021 July 30 off the coast of Oman, an armed drone attacked the Mercer Street cargo ship, killing two. That ship was linked to an Israeli billionaire.

Soccer teams and fans from 32 countries, including Iran, are gathering in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, which starts on Sunday.

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