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Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Seizes a Container Ship Near Strait of Hormuz amid Tensions with West

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled down onto a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel Saturday, authorities said.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency acknowledged the seizure after a video seen by The Associated Press showed the commandos raiding the ship Saturday, an attack a Mideast defense official attributed to Iran amid wider tensions between Tehran and the West.

The attack was earlier reported by the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which said it took place in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) —

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

The video showed the attack earlier reported by the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. It described the vessel as being “seized by regional authorities” in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah, without elaborating.

The defense 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.

The MSC Aries had been last located off Dubai heading toward the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The ship had turned off its tracking data, which has been common for Israeli-affiliated ships moving through the region.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West, particularly after a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian Consulate in Syria. Meanwhile, the wider Middle East remains on edge after six months of Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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.

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes. Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

Since 2019, the waters off Fujairah have seen a series of explosions and hijackings. The U.S. Navy blamed Iran for limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers.


By JON GAMBRELL Associated Press

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