Iranian tanker hit by attack near Syria, three dead

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An Iranian oil tanker was the target of an attack off Syria on Saturday, which left three people dead and hit one of its tanks, the first of its kind since the start of the war in that country, according to a Syrian NGO .

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), based in London and which has a large network of sources in Syria, was not able to immediately specify the origin of the attack which has not been claimed.

“The Iranian tanker coming from Iran was stationary not far from the (Syrian) port of Banias at the time of the attack,” OSDH director Rami Abdel Rahmane told AFP. “At least three Syrians were killed, including two crew members.”

Mr. Abdel Rahmane said “ignore whether it is an Israeli attack or not”, while Israel has repeatedly targeted Iran’s positions in Syria, a neighboring country to the warring Hebrew state since. 2011.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, which militarily assists Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, is an enemy of Israel. Tensions are very high between the two countries and about ten days ago, Iran accused Israel of “sabotage” in its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

In Damascus, the Ministry of Petroleum, quoted by the official Sana news agency, said that “a fire broke out in one of the tanks” of an unidentified oil tanker “after having probably been the target of a drone attack ”, off Banias (west). The fire is now “under control”, according to the ministry.

War in Syria

This is the first such attack since the start of the war in Syria, according to the NGO.

A neighbor of Syria, since 2011 Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes, including with the help of drones, against positions of the Syrian power and its allies, Iranian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, another sworn enemy of the Hebrew state.

Israel says it seeks to prevent Iran from settling in Syria. The Israeli military has rarely publicly acknowledged its strikes in Syria.

On Thursday, a Syrian officer was killed near Damascus in Israeli strikes according to OSDH, with Israel claiming to have responded to missile fire fired from Syria and fell in southern Israeli territory, near a nuclear facility.

Several oil installations have been the target of attacks in Syria.

In February 2020, four oil and gas sites in the central province of Homs were attacked by armed drones, causing fires and property damage.

The unclaimed attacks came a week after unknown sabotage of marine pipelines at the Banias refinery. A similar sabotage, carried out using explosives laid on the pipelines, took place six months earlier.

The war in Syria, triggered in 2011 by the crackdown on pro-democracy protests, cost the oil industry tens of billions of dollars.

The sanctions against Syria as well as the punitive American measures against Iran, an oil country, have made imports all the more complicated.

Before the conflict, Syrian crude oil production reached nearly 400,000 barrels per day. In 2020, this amounted to only 89,000 b / d according to the oil minister, including up to 80,000 from Kurdish areas outside the control of power.