Israel has reportedly targeted a dozen ships carrying Iranian oil and arms bound for Syria since late 2019.
The attacks, which sought to disrupt the flow of millions of barrels of Iranian oil and arms rather than sinking the vessels, took place in the Red Sea and other areas according to the Wall Street Journal report. At least two of the vessels were forced to return to Iranian ports.
Iran’s trade in oil is a violation of both US sanctions on Iran and international sanctions of Damascus, and Israel is believed to be concerned about profits from the trade financing Tehran’s regional terror proxies.
US officials have alleged that Iran’s Syria-bound oil cargoes are controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. To evade sanctions shippers are declaring false destinations, clandestinely transfer oil from one ship to another at sea and use old tankers in poor condition to avoid notice.
In recent weeks, Israel accused Iran of a blast on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Persian Gulf – believed to have been caused by limpet mines.
The United States has previously accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in 2019.
Israel’s military is believed to have conducted hundreds of targeted airstrikes in Syria in recent years to prevent Iran establishing a military presence in the country and to prevent the transport of advanced, ‘game-changing’ weapons to terror group Hezbollah.