Israeli attacks on Iranian tankers 'behind Mediterranean oil spill'
Israeli forces have this week been suspected of repeatedly targetting Iranian oil tankers in international waters.
A report on Saturday from the UK newspaper The Times tied this to an oil spill near the Israeli and Lebanese coasts in the past month.
Israel has previously blamed an Iranian tanker carrying crude oil to Syria for the spill.
However, The Times said the incident “will now be viewed in a different light.”
The spill last month, described as one of Israel's worst ever ecological disasters, washed up around a thousand tonnes of tar on the Israeli coastline and at least two tonnes in southern Lebanon.
The clean-up operation could take months or even years.
The British newspaper made this connection after the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has targeted at least 12 Iranian tankers carrying oil destined for Syria since 2019, citing US and regional officials.
The tankers were targeted in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and other waters around the Middle East, according to the Wall Street Journal.
WSJ added that Israel has used weaponry including water mines to target Iranian vessels, as Iran has continued its oil trade with Syria, shipping millions of barrels in breach of US sanctions against Iran and global sanctions on Syria.
There were three strikes in 2019, six last year and three more this year.
The strikes may also link Israel to a large oil spill in the Red Sea in October 2019, for which no perpretator was named.
The attacks on the tankers carrying Iranian oil have normally gone undisclosed, and Israel has not commented on them. Iranian officials have said in the past that they suspected Israeli involvement, however.
The operations would have been planned jointly by Mossad and military intelligence, which have worked together to track Iranian targets, and would have been carried out by Flotilla 13, the Israeli navy’s special operations unit, The Times said.
Though Iran has not reacted to the recent claims, last night it said that one of its cargo ships, the Shahr e Kord, had been attacked and caught fire off the Syrian port of Latakia on Wednesday night, The Times added. It called the attack “terrorism” but has not yet identified the perpetrator.
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