Iran Guards seize commercial ship in Gulf: US Navy

Damage sustained by Richmond Voyager after personnel from an Iranian naval vessel fired multiple rounds during an attempt to unlawfully seize the commercial tanker, July 5, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 July 2023
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Iran Guards seize commercial ship in Gulf: US Navy

  • US Navy: ‘The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forcibly seized a commercial vessel possibly engaged in smuggling activity’
  • US Navy: ‘US forces remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights of lawful maritime traffic in the Middle East’s critical waters’

DUBAI: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday seized a commercial ship in the Gulf, the US Navy said, a day after it had accused Iranian forces of two similar attempts off Oman.
“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forcibly seized a commercial vessel possibly engaged in smuggling activity,” the Bahrain-based US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said in a statement.
US forces monitored the incident in international waters, it added, but “assessed the circumstances of this event did not warrant further response.”
The statement did not identify the commercial ship.
“US forces remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights of lawful maritime traffic in the Middle East’s critical waters,” it said.
In recent years, Washington and Tehran have traded accusations over a series of incidents in the tense Gulf waterways that are vital to the global oil trade.
On Wednesday, the US Navy said it had blocked two attempts by the Iranian navy to seize commercial tankers in international waters off Oman, including one case in which the Iranians fired shots.
In both cases, the US Central Command said the Iranians departed after a US destroyer appeared on the scene.
The maritime services in Iran said one of the two tankers, the Bahamian-flagged Richmond Voyager, had collided with an Iranian vessel, seriously injuring five crew members, according to state news agency IRNA.
They said the collision had occurred on Tuesday and that it damaged and caused the flooding of the Iranian vessel.
“The Richmond Voyager continued on its way, regardless of international maritime rules and regulations,” IRNA said, adding a court order had been issued for Iran’s navy to seize the tanker.
The news agency said the tanker changed course before entering Oman’s territorial waters.
Iran said it had referred the matter to the “friendly” Sultanate of Oman, which has mediated talks between the Islamic republic and the United States, and that it was seeking the vessel’s seizure.
In April and early May, Iran seized two tankers within a week in regional waters.
In one case, helicopter-borne Iranian navy commandos abseiled onto the deck of a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran was also accused of launching a drone attack against an Israeli-owned tanker in November 2022, stoking tensions with the United States.
There has been a spate of such incidents since 2018, when then US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic, sending tensions soaring.
Talks aimed at reviving the accord remain stalled, but have recently resumed with Oman as an intermediary.


Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 37,551

Updated 6 sec ago
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Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 37,551

The toll includes at least 120 deaths over the past 48 hours

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Saturday that at least 37,551 people have been killed in the territory during more than eight months of war between Israel and Palestinian militants.
The toll includes at least 120 deaths over the past 48 hours, a ministry statement said, adding 85,911 had been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7.

Iraqi pro-Iran fighter killed in strike on eastern Syria

Updated 19 min 32 sec ago
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Iraqi pro-Iran fighter killed in strike on eastern Syria

  • “An Iraqi member in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq was killed, and two others were injured in a preliminary toll, as a result of an unknown airstrike,” the Observatory said
  • The Britain-based monitor said an explosion was heard coinciding with the strike “in Albukamal countryside...”

BEIRUT: An Iraqi fighter from an Iran-backed group was killed in an overnight airstrike in eastern Syria near the Iraq border overnight, the group and a war monitor said on Saturday.
The strike occurred in Deir Ezzor province, where Iran wields significant influence and which is regularly targeted by Israel and the United States, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“An Iraqi member in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq was killed, and two others were injured in a preliminary toll, as a result of an unknown airstrike,” the Observatory said, referring to a loose alliance of Iran-backed groups.
The Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, said an explosion was heard coinciding with the strike “in Albukamal countryside... a few kilometers away from Syrian-Iraqi borders.”
Iraq’s Sayyed Al-Shuhada Brigades announced the death of a fighter in a strike on “Friday which targeted his vehicle during a reconnaissance patrol on the Iraqi-Syrian border,” accusing the United States of being behind the attack.
Responsibility for the strike was not immediately claimed, but a spokesperson for the US-led military coalition formed in 2014 to fight the Daesh group told AFP that “neither the coalition nor US forces carried out overnight strikes in Deir Ezzor.”
The Observatory said that several hours before the strike, drones flew over the area.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes primarily targeting pro-Iran groups — which it rarely comments on publically.
In late March, 16 Tehran-affiliated fighters, including an Iranian military adviser, were killed in strikes on eastern Syria.
The strikes also killed one civilian working for the World Health Organization.
Iran has long been a key ally of the Syrian government, most notably providing military advisers.


Iran supreme court overturns rapper Salehi’s death sentence: lawyer

Updated 22 June 2024
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Iran supreme court overturns rapper Salehi’s death sentence: lawyer

  • Popular rapper Toomaj Salehi was jailed for backing nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death

TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme court has overturned a death sentence against popular rapper Toomaj Salehi who was jailed for backing nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, his lawyer said Saturday.
“Salehi’s death sentence was overturned,” the rapper’s lawyer Amir Raisian said in a post on X, adding that the supreme court had ordered a retrial.


Jordanian police discover explosives stored in residential apartment

Updated 22 June 2024
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Jordanian police discover explosives stored in residential apartment

  • The explosives, found in a home in the Marka neighborhood northeast of Amman, were detonated onsite after the area was evacuated

AMMAN: Police in Jordan said on Saturday they had uncovered and detonated explosives stored in a residential area of the capital and were investigating the incident.
The explosives, found in a home in the Marka neighborhood northeast of the capital, were detonated onsite after the area was evacuated, according to a brief statement by public security directorate. Witnesses said the area was sealed by police.
The statement did not say if police suspected it was terrorism related or if arrests were made, or detail the quantity of explosives. It added more details would be published once the investigation was complete.
Over the past year, Jordan has said it has foiled many attempts to smuggle weapons by infiltrators linked to pro-Iranian militias in Syria, who it says have crossed its borders with rocket launchers and explosives, adding that some of the weapons managed to get through undetected.
Iran has denied being behind such attempts.
Most of the clandestine flow of arms into the country has been bound for the neighboring Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordanian officials say.
There have also been arrests of several Jordanians linked to the Palestinian militant group Hamas suspected of involvement in smuggling arms to the West Bank, they add.


Israel army says Israeli civilian shot dead in West Bank

Updated 22 June 2024
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Israel army says Israeli civilian shot dead in West Bank

  • The military and Israeli police were investigating the circumstances of the death, the military said, without offering details

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said on Saturday that an Israeli civilian died after being shot near the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya and that troops had launched an operation in the area.
The military and Israeli police were investigating the circumstances of the death, the military said, without offering details.
“IDF troops are currently operating in the area of Qalqilya after an Israeli civilian was pronounced dead, shortly after being found shot in the area,” the military said in a statement.
Israeli media reported that the dead man, who was in his 60s, was a Jewish Israeli citizen.
In recent days, there have been several violent incidents in Qalqilya and its vicinity.
On Friday, Israeli and Palestinian authorities said at least two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli operation in the city.
Israeli authorities said the two were militants from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.
Violence in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967, has been on the rise for more than a year, particularly since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.
At least 549 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers across the West Bank since October 7, according to Palestinian officials.
Attacks by Palestinians have killed at least 14 Israelis in the West Bank over the same period, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.