An Iranian oil tanker was attacked off the coast of Syria on Saturday, killing three and wounding one of its tanks, the first of its kind since the start of the war in that country, according to a Syrian non-governmental organization.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a large network of resources in Syria, was unable to determine the source of the attack, which was not immediately announced.
“The Iranian tanker coming from Iran was stationed in the vicinity of the (Syrian) port of Banias at the time of the attack,” OSDH director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. At least three Syrians were killed, including two crew members. “
“He ignored whether it was an Israeli attack or not,” said Mr. Abd al-Rahman, while Israel has repeatedly targeted Iran’s sites in Syria, a country neighboring the warring Jewish state since 2011.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, which is helping the Bashar al-Assad regime militarily in Syria, is an enemy of Israel. Tensions are very high between the two countries and about ten days ago, Iran accused Israel of “sabotaging” its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.
In Damascus, the Ministry of Petroleum confirmed, according to the official SANA news agency, that “a fire broke out in one of the tanks of an” unidentified oil tanker “after it was most likely the target of a drone attack, off Banias (west). The ministry said the fire was now “under control”.
The war in Syria
According to the NGO, this is the first attack of its kind since the start of the war in Syria.
Since 2011, Israel, which is neighboring Syria, has carried out hundreds of strikes, including with the help of drones, against the sites of the Syrian force and its allies, Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, another hostile jury 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, as Israel claimed to have responded to rocket fire fired from Syria that landed in southern Israeli territory, near a nuclear facility.
Several oil installations have been attacked in Syria.
In February 2020, four oil and gas sites in the central Homs governorate were attacked by armed drones, which led to the outbreak of fires and damage to property.
The unreported attacks came a week after the unidentified sabotage of marine pipelines at the Baniyas refinery. A similar sabotage took place using explosives placed on pipelines six months ago.
The war in Syria, which began in 2011 due to the suppression of pro-democracy protests, has cost the oil industry tens of billions of dollars.
Sanctions on Syria as well as US punitive measures against Iran, the oil-producing country, have made imports more complicated.
Before the conflict, Syrian crude oil production was around 400,000 barrels per day. In 2020, this quantity amounted to only 89,000 barrels, according to the Minister of Petroleum, including up to 80,000 barrels from Kurdish areas outside the control of the Authority.