Video shows raid on ship near Strait of Hormuz; attack carried out by Iran, says Mideast official

The incident comes as Israel braced for an attack by Iran or its proxies as retaliation warnings grew after the killing of a senior officer in Iran's embassy in Damascus


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This screengrab from a video provided to the AP shows a helicopter raid targeting a vessel near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, April 13. — AP
This screengrab from a video provided to the AP shows a helicopter raid targeting a vessel near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, April 13. — AP

Published: Sat 13 Apr 2024, 2:24 PM

Last updated: Sat 13 Apr 2024, 2:28 PM

A video seen by The Associated Press shows commandos raiding a ship near the Strait of Hormuz by helicopter on Saturday, an attack that a Middle East defence official attributed to Iran amid wider tensions between Tehran and the West.

The video showed the attack earlier reported by the British military’s UK Maritime Trade Operations. It described the vessel as being “seized by regional authorities” in the Gulf of Oman.

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The defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, shared the video with the AP. In it, the commandos rappelled down onto a stack of containers sitting on the deck of the vessel.

A crew member on the ship could be heard saying: “Don’t come out.” He then tells his colleagues to go to the ship’s bridge as more commandos come down on the deck. One commando can be seen kneeling above the others to provide them potential cover fire.

Though the AP could not immediately verify the video, it corresponded to known details of the boarding, and the helicopter involved appeared to be one used by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has carried out other ship raids in the past.

The vessel involved is likely the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Zodiac declined to comment and referred questions to MSC, which did not immediately respond.

Iran did not immediately acknowledge seizing any vessel, nor was there any report carried by state media about the incident. However, Iran since 2019 has engaged in a series of ship seizures and had attacks on vessels attributed to it amid ongoing tensions with the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

Israel bracing for Iran attack

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West, particularly after a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian Consulate in Syria.

Israel on Friday braced for an attack by Iran or its proxies as warnings grew of retaliation for the killing last week of a senior officer in Iran's embassy in Damascus.

Countries including India, France, Poland and Russia have warned their citizens against travel to the region.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the threat from Iran was real and viable.

The Israeli military said it had not issued fresh instructions to civilians, but asked people to remain vigilant.

"The revenge will come," wrote Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. "For the moment, the premise is that it will be very soon, in the next few days."

US President Joe Biden also said he expected Iran to attack Israel "sooner, rather than later" and warned Tehran not to proceed.

Asked by reporters about his message to Iran on Friday, Biden said simply, Don't," and he underscored Washington's commitment to defend Israel.

"We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed," he said.

The wider Middle East remains on edge after six months of Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

(With inputs from Reuters)


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