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US official: Israeli ship targeted by suspected Iranian attack in Indian Ocean

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“We continue to monitor the situation closely,” the official said. The official declined to give more details about intelligence collected by the U.S. military to assess the attack’s Iranian origin, although authorities suspect Tehran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards carried out the attack.

The same drones have been used by Russia in its war against Ukraine, most recently in a barrage launched on Saturday, which Kiev described as the largest drone attack carried out by Moscow since the start of the war.

Al-Mayadeen, a pan-Arab satellite channel politically allied with the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, reported that an Israeli ship had been targeted in the Indian Ocean. The channel cited anonymous sources for the information, which Iranian media later cited.

CMA CGM, a major shipper based in Marseille, France, did not respond to a request for comment. However, the ship’s crew behaved as if they believed the ship was facing a threat.

The ship’s automatic identification system has been disabled since Tuesday when it left Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, according to MarineTraffic.com data analyzed by the AP. Ships are supposed to keep their AIS active for safety reasons, but crews will turn it off if it looks like they might be targeted. He had done the same thing earlier when crossing the Red Sea through Yemen, home to Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

“It is likely that the attack was targeted, due to the ship’s Israeli affiliation through Eastern Pacific Shipping,” private intelligence firm Ambrey told the AP. “The ship’s AIS transmissions were turned off a few days before the event, indicating that this was not enough to prevent an attack.”

The Symi is owned by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, a company ultimately controlled by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer. A telephone number for Eastern Pacific Shipping in Singapore went unanswered on Saturday, while no one responded to an emailed request for comment. The Israeli military referred questions to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which did not respond.

In November 2022, the Liberian-flagged tanker Pacific Zircon, also associated with the Eastern Pacific, suffered damage in a suspected Iranian attack off the coast of Oman.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment. However, Tehran and Israel are engaged in a years-long shadow war across the Middle East, with drone attacks targeting ships associated with Israel circulating in the region.

In the war between Israel and Hamas, which began with the militants’ attack on October 7, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship in the Red Sea off Yemen.

On Saturday, the British military’s maritime trade operations, which issues warnings to sailors in the Middle East, said “an entity claiming to be the Yemeni authorities” had ordered at least one ship to move away from a location off the coast of Hodeida, Yemen, in the Red Sea.

“Vessels in the vicinity are advised to exercise caution and report any suspicious activity,” it warns.

Iran-backed militias in Iraq also launched attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria during the war. However, Iran itself has not yet been directly linked to an attack.

“Iran has been reluctant to intervene in the current crisis in the Middle East and will likely avoid any action that could escalate the conflict,” the Eurasia Group, a geopolitical risk management firm, said in an analysis. “Small-scale attacks on U.S. forces and Israel by Iran’s allies across the region suggest Tehran is prepared to ramp up pressure in a limited way, but unless the attacks cause casualties or damage important in the United States, a major American response is unlikely. »

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