An explosion was reported on a ship at the port in Latakia with a fire reported on the ship, according to Arabic media. The Latakia port is located just 20 kilometers from the Russian military airbase “Khmeimim”. According to Syrian report, the explosion could have been the result of an Israeli drone attack or a special forces raid at the oil tanker.
Security sources doubt that a drone strike caused an explosion on the Panama-flagged tanker Wisdom, which was carrying Iranian oil to Syria. Reports said three people suffered severe burns and one later died.
The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that firefighters extinguished a fire that broke out in a ship that was undergoing maintenance at the port. Smoke from the fire caused some of the workers to suffer difficulty breathing. The ship was empty, according to SANA.
Less than a week after the attack on the Mercer Street, Iranian forces reportedly attempted to hijack the Asphalt Princess tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, but fled the ship after workers sabotaged the engines, according to the British daily The Times.
On Monday, Iranian Nour News claimed that an Israeli submarine had secretly entered the Red Sea accompanied by two ships. In recent years, Israel and Iran have reportedly targeted each other’s maritime vessels on dozens of occasions.
TankerTrackers.com, an online service that tracks and reports shipments and storage of crude oil, identified the vessel as the WISDOM, saying that the tanker had recently relocated in the port to make room for the Iranian oil tanker SAM 121.
The WISDOM has been used to transfer Iranian oil from Iranian tankers, including the SAM 121, to Syria in the past, according to TankerTrackers.com.If this was the WISDOM, this isn’t the first time the vessel has been affected by such an incident.
In April, initial reports claimed that the ship had been targeted by a drone attack, although Iranian and Syrian media later denied the reports, saying that a fire had been caused by a welding accident, killing one worker.In May, the vessel was hit by another fire, after what SANA claimed was a technical failure in one of the engines.
The news comes as tensions remain high between Israel and Iran after an Iranian drone strike targeted an Israeli-managed Mercer Street ship off the coast of Oman in July, killing a British citizen and a Romanian citizen. The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel have all threatened retaliation and the attack has garnered international condemnation of Iran.
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