Iran claims ship was attacked in Mediterranean, following Gulf of Oman incident

This comes after reports Israel has sought to stop Iranian fuel transfers to Syria

Iranian-flagged container ship Shahr e Kord is pictured at Haydarpasa port in Istanbul, Turkey December 13, 2019. Picture taken December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Yoruk Isik

An Iranian shipping company said on Friday that one of its vessels was targeted this week in a "terrorist attack" using an explosive device in the Mediterranean Sea.

The alleged incident came less than two weeks after Tel Aviv had accused Tehran of being behind an attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has denied this.

The cargo ship Iran Shahr e Kord – which is owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines group (IRISL) – was en route from Iran to Europe when its hull was hit by "an explosive device" on Wednesday, group spokesman Ali Ghiasian was quoted on state television as saying.

Mr Ghiasian called the incident a "terrorist action and an example of maritime piracy".

"A small fire started where the explosion had ocurred, but it was quickly extinguished ... and none of the crew were hurt," he said.

"Legal proceedings will be taken to identify the perpetrators through related international bodies," he added.

The company official did not disclose the ship's current location and cargo but said "it will continue its route after assessing and repairing the damage".

In a Thursday report quoting US and Middle East officials, The Wall Street Journal said that since late 2019, Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria, mostly carrying Iranian oil.

Responding to a question on the Iranian claims, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said: "We do not comment on reports by foreign media.

"But we will continue to fight against the terrorism and everything that helps terrorism, including its sources of revenue."

IRISL was blacklisted by the US in mid-2020 over what the Department of State described as the transportation of items related to Iran's missile and nuclear programme.

Former US president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and world powers in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on the country.

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