Iranian ship believed to be floating troop base in Red Sea is attacked
An Iranian cargo ship believed to be a base for the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen has been attacked, Tehran acknowledged Wednesday.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack — suspected to have been carried out by Israel — on the MV Saviz. The assault came as Iran and world powers sat down in Vienna on Tuesday for the first talks about the U.S. potentially rejoining Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal, showing that the challenges ahead don’t rest merely in those negotiations.
The ship’s long presence in the region, repeatedly criticized by Saudi Arabia, has come as the West and United Nations experts say Iran has provided arms and support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid Yemen’s years-long war. Iran denies arming the Houthis, though components found in the rebels’ weaponry are linked to Tehran.
Iran previously described the Saviz as aiding in “anti-piracy” efforts in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial choke point in international shipping. A statement attributed to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the ship as a commercial vessel.
“Fortunately, no casualties were reported ... and technical investigations are underway,” Khatibzadeh said. “Our country will take all necessary measures through international authorities.”
In an earlier state TV statement, an anchor cited a New York Times story that quoted an anonymous U.S. official as saying Israel had informed the U.S. that it carried out an attack Tuesday morning on the vessel. Israeli officials declined to comment on the incident when reached by the Associated Press, as did the Saviz’s owner.
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Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, while refusing to say if his country launched the attack, described Iran and its regional allies as a major threat.