Israeli-Affiliated Oil Tanker Hit by Suspected Iranian Drone

An Israeli oil tanker was struck by a suspected Iranian drone Tuesday night in the Gulf of Oman, blowing a hole in the ship but resulting in no injuries or deaths, according to US military officials.

Officials said the 600-foot Pacific Zircon was traveling through the Gulf of Oman when it was hit by a single drone. They added that the raid had blown a hole in the stern of the ship, but the ship was not disabled.

Pacific Zircon is owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping, a Singapore-based company founded by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.

Cyril Ducaw, the company’s CEO, told the Wall Street Journal that the crew is safe and that the ship sustained only minor damage. The company said the attack did not cause an oil spill and that the ship was still sailing.

The US military denounced the attack as another sign of Iran’s threat to the Middle East.

“This unmanned aerial attack on a civilian vessel in this dangerous fjord demonstrates once again the destabilizing nature of Iran’s malign activity in the region,” said Gen. Michael Eric Kurella, commander of the US Central Command, which is responsible for. US military operations in the Middle East.

Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, condemned the attack and said the US was confident Iran likely carried out the strike.

“There is no justification for this attack, which is the latest in a pattern of such broader destabilizing actions and activities,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We will work with partners and allies… to hold Iran accountable and respond with appropriate means.”

An Israeli official said the drone used in Tuesday’s attack was a Shahed-136, the same type of Iranian drone Russia has used to carry out a series of attacks in Ukraine.

Western officials said Iran used Shahed-136 drones to carry out a similar attack last year on another tanker belonging to Israel in the same area. US officials said they do not yet know what type of drones were used over the Pacific Zircon.

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The attack comes amid growing concern about Iran’s military threats to the region as Tehran grapples with prolonged protests at home that have undermined the government’s grip on power.

Tehran has launched a series of drone and missile strikes on Kurdish groups in northern Iraq, and has publicly threatened Saudi Arabia, which it has accused of stoking protests in Iran.

Last year, the United States accused Iran of carrying out a drone attack on an Israeli oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman that killed two crew members. Western officials said Iran used Shahed-136 drones to hit the Mercer Street tanker. Iran denied any involvement in the attack.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and the United States shared intelligence indicating that Iran was preparing to launch an attack on economic targets in the kingdom, though officials said the immediate threat receded after the newspaper reported on the warnings.

Iran is facing mounting pressure at home and abroad over its response to two months of protests over the death of 22-year-old Mohsa Amini, who died in the custody of the morality police after protesting against the country’s laws requiring women to cover their hair.

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Israel and Iran have been engaged in a years-long shadow war that stretches across the Middle East. Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria as part of its campaign to thwart Tehran’s efforts to expand its military influence throughout the region.

Iran also accused Israel of using mines to target an Iranian ship in the Red Sea last year.

Recently, Israel bombed a suspected Iranian arms convoy on the Iraq-Syria border killing at least 10 people, according to people familiar with the attack.

write to Dion Nissenbaum at [email protected] and Benoit Faucon at [email protected]

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