Addis Ababa, April 8, 2021 (Walta) – An Iranian cargo ship believed to be a base for the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen has been attacked.
Iran’s foreign ministry on Wednesday confirmed the attack, saying the MV Saviz was hit with an unknown explosion that caused “minor damage” around 6am local time in the Red Sea on Tuesday, close to the shores of Djibouti.
Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the Saviz is a non-military vessel formally registered with the International Maritime Organisation that acts as Iran’s “logistic station” in the Red Sea, providing anti-piracy services.
“Fortunately no fatalities were incurred due to the incident, and technical evaluations on how the incident occurred and its origins are under way,” he said.
The attack came as Iran and world powers sat down in Vienna for the first talks about the US potentially rejoining Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal, showing that challenges ahead do not rest merely in those negotiations.
The ship’s long presence in the region, repeatedly criticised by Saudi Arabia, comes as the West and United Nations experts say Iran has provided arms and support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid that country’s years-long war.
Iran denies arming the Houthis, but components found in the rebels’ weaponry link back to Tehran.
In a state TV statement, an Iranian anchor cited a New York Times story published Wednesday that quoted an anonymous US official saying Israel warned the US about a planned attack on the vessel.
In a statement, the US military’s Central Command only said it was “aware of media reporting of an incident involving the Saviz in the Red Sea”.
“We can confirm that no US forces were involved in the incident,” the command said. “We have no additional information to provide.”
On Wednesday, the United Nations called for “maximum restraint”.
“Although the circumstances around the incident remain unclear, we wish to underscore the importance for the concerned parties to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from taking any escalatory actions and, in particular, to respect their obligations under international law,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
(Source: Al Jazeera)