Deadly drone attack on tanker escalates Iran-Israeli maritime tensions

Two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, died on Thursday when mercer street tanker The attack is believed to have been carried out by an armed drone operated by Iran off the coast of Oman.

While Israel and the US are blaming Iran for the attack, Iranian state media has said the incident was in retaliation for an airstrike on a military air base in Syria in which it accused Israel of being behind.

The Syrian regime is supported by Iranian forces. No Iranian official commented on the attack, and CNN has contacted Iran’s foreign ministry for comment.

The ship’s management firm said the ship was traveling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates with no cargo.

According to marine tracking website Marine Traffic, it is reportedly sailing under the flag of Liberia. The ship is Japanese-owned and managed by Zodiac Maritime, an international management company headquartered in London and led by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

Zodiac also confirmed on Friday that the tanker was under its power and was on its way to a safe location with a US naval escort. US officials did not say which port the ship would go to.

A security official with knowledge of the initial investigation said the crew reported hearing explosions in the water and drones following the explosions. The boat went radio silent again.

He said the boat’s driver and security personnel then remained on the bridge to steer the ship and were injured in the attack. The official said the deceased was a member of the Briton security personnel.

A US defense official familiar with the details of the incident said on Friday that the tanker was attacked by an armed drone believed to be operated by Iran.

Another official said the US “responded to an emergency distress call of an apparent UAV-style attack,” and the ship was escorted to port by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and the USS Mitcher destroyer.

The first US official said the tanker’s crew reported that the drone exploded in its superstructure on Thursday. He also reported a failed drone strike earlier in the day but said the drone went overboard.

The US military has long noted that Iran has drones that fly into targets and detonate on impact.

An official source from Oman’s Maritime Security Center told the Oman News Agency on Friday that the incident took place outside Omani waters, the agency said.

The agency reported that Oman sent jets and a naval ship to the site of the attack, and Omani officials say they were told by the ship and its crew that it would continue sailing without requiring assistance.

deep concern

This event interrupts Tension escalates between Israel and Iran and following a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent years, Which the US has accused Iran of.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that the world needs to stand before Iran after the incident.

In a statement, Lapid said, “Iran is not only Israel’s problem, but an exporter of terror, destruction and instability that plagues the entire world. We must never remain silent in the face of Iranian terrorism, which also stifles freedom of navigation.” does harm.” Twitter.

Lapid said he had told his British counterpart Dominic Raab that the attack on the ship required a strong response.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement on Twitter that it was “deeply concerned” by the incident off the coast of Oman.

“Our condolences go out to the loved ones of the British and Romanian civilians killed in this incident,” the statement said. “Ships should be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” it added.

Embray, the maritime security company that employed the UK crewman killed in the attack, also said in a statement that it is “currently working closely with our customer and relevant authorities, while providing all possible assistance to the families of the victims.” .

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved in this incredibly sad time.”

CNN’s Andrew Carey and Amir Tal contributed to this report.


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