June 19th, 2024

Video shows raid on ship near Strait of Hormuz that a Mideast official says was carried out by Iran

By Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press on April 13, 2024.

This is a locator map for United Arab Emirates with its capital, Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A video seen by The Associated Press shows commandos raiding a ship near the Strait of Hormuz by helicopter Saturday, an attack a Mideast defense official attributed to Iran amid wider tensions between Tehran and the West.

The video showed the attack earlier reported by the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. It had offered no details about the boarding in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah.

The defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, shared the video with the AP. In it, the commandos rappelled down onto a stack of containers sitting on the deck of the vessel.

A crew member on the ship could be heard saying: “Don’t come out.” The crew mate then tells his colleagues to go to the ship’s bridge as more commandos come down on the deck. One commando can be seen kneeling above the others to provide them potential cover fire.

Though the AP could not immediately verify the video, it corresponded to known details of the boarding and the helicopter involved appeared to be one used by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has carried out other ship raids in the past.

The vessel involved is likely the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Neither MSC nor Zodiac immediately responded to a request for comment.

The MSC Aries had been last located off Dubai heading toward the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The ship had turned off its tracking data, which has been common for Israeli-affiliated ships moving through the region.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West, particularly after a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian Consulate in Syria.

Iran did not immediately acknowledge seizing any vessel, nor was there any report carried by state media about the incident. However, Iran since 2019 has engaged in a series of ship seizures and had attacks on vessels attributed to it amid ongoing tensions with the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all oil passes. Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

Since 2019, the waters off Fujairah have seen a series of explosions and hijackings. The U.S. Navy blamed Iran for limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers.

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