In a dramatic confirmation of Iranian allegations on the topic, the United States has confirmed that Israel has been targeting Iranian oil shipments to Syria since as early as 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the attacks were carried out using a variety of weaponry that has been confirmed to include naval mines as well as other, more advanced techniques. This comes as a larger part of Israel’s undeclared war against Iranian assets of all kinds in Syria.
Israel has, until now, practiced a policy of strict nondisclosure on the matter. It is suspected that this revelation is motivated by the Biden administration’s attempts to draft a Middle East policy.
Each tanker is capable of carrying millions of US dollars worth of oil, according to The Wall Street Journal. They are controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and are sent to Syria with the intent of circumventing the many sanctions leveled against both countries. Syrian officials report that these operations have caused significant fuel shortages in the region.
Israel has also publicly accused Iran of interfering with maritime shipping and ignoring international law on the topic, using various tricks of the trade to move cargo unnoticed to Syria. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has recently blamed Iran for the explosion aboard Israeli-owned SS Helios Ray and a massive tar spill off Israel’s Mediterranean coast. United States sources add that they believed Iran to be behind several naval bombings in 2019.
Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank that opposes the Iran deal and urges a hard line against Tehran, told The Wall Street Journal that Israel and the US have been targeting the Iranian economy for some time.
In the most recent attack, suspected Israeli operatives used a limpet mine, attached magnetically to a ship’s hull below the waterline and detonated later to cause immediate serious flooding.
A Tehran source claimed that the attacks are being kept quiet in the Iranian media to avoid a show of weakness. Nevertheless, a Telegram channel close to the Iranian navy posted pictures purporting to show a fire on board an Iranian container vessel, the Shahr e Kord, near Latakia, Syria. The video claimed a missile attack but provided little other information. Thus far, neither side has sunk any shipping, although several ships have been forced to return to port.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, met virtually Thursday with Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat to discuss a range of issues, with matters involving Iran a centerpiece of their discussions, officials said. It is estimated that like the Trump administration, the Biden administration will provide tacit approval, intelligence, and strategic advice to help Israel continue the attacks.