DUBAI, July 31 (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy is aiding an Israeli-managed petroleum merchandise tanker attacked off Oman with two crew members killed, the U.S. army stated on Saturday, including the ship was most probably hit by a drone strike.
Mercer Avenue, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned vessel that was attacked on Thursday, is being escorted by the plane service USS Ronald Reagan, U.S. Central Command stated in an announcement.
“U.S. Navy explosives specialists are aboard to make sure there isn’t any further hazard to the crew, and are ready to assist an investigation into the assault,” stated Central Command, which oversees American army operations within the Center East and Central Asia.
“Preliminary indications clearly level to a UAV-style (drone) assault,” it added.
Israeli International Minister Yair Lapid blamed Iran on Friday for the assault, which killed a Briton and a Romanian, and stated it deserved a harsh response. There was no fast official response from Iran to the accusation that it was accountable.
Lapid spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in regards to the incident on Saturday night, he stated on Twitter.
“We’re working collectively in opposition to Iranian terrorism, which poses a risk to all of us, by formulating an actual and efficient worldwide response,” Lapid stated.
Lapid added on Twitter: Iran “repeatedly errs in understanding our dedication to defending ourselves and our pursuits.”
U.S. and European sources aware of intelligence reporting stated on Friday that Iran was their main suspect for the incident. read more
Al Alam TV, the Iranian authorities’s Arabic-language tv community, cited unnamed sources as saying the assault on the ship got here in response to a suspected, unspecified Israeli assault on Dabaa airport in Syria.
The vessel is managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime. The corporate stated on Friday the vessel was crusing beneath the management of its crew and personal energy to a protected location with a U.S. naval escort.
Iran and Israel have traded accusations of attacking one another’s vessels in latest months.
Tensions have risen within the Gulf area since the USA reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear cope with main powers.
The UK Maritime Commerce Operations (UKMTO), which gives maritime safety data, stated the vessel was about 152 nautical miles (280 km) northeast of the Omani port of Duqm when it was attacked.
Based on Refinitiv ship monitoring, the medium-size tanker was headed for Fujairah within the United Arab Emirates, from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli
Further reporting by Rami Ayyub in Tel Aviv
Modifying by Frances Kerry and Cynthia Osterman
Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.