Iranian Shahed drones, extensively used by Russia in Ukraine.

Israeli-Linked Vessel Attacked By Suicide Drone In Indian Ocean

Saturday, 12/23/2023

A vessel affiliated with Israel was hit by a drone in the Indian Ocean, 200 nautical miles Southwest of India, in a sign of attacks spreading against maritime traffic.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operation reported the incident on Saturday, as attacks by Iran-backed Houthi forces have escalated against commercial shipping in the Red Sea. The location is hundreds of miles from the Iranian and Yemeni territories, and it is not known from where the drone was launched.

Later, the vessel was identified as the Liberian-flagged tanker as MV Chem Pluto carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia.

Some Iranian one-way kamikaze drones, such as Shahed 136 used by Russia against Ukraine, have a range of at least 1,000 kilometers.

Meanwhile, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said the Mediterranean Sea could be closed if the United States and its allies continued to commit "crimes" in Gaza, Iranian media reported on Saturday, without explaining how that would happen. However, use of suicide drones launched from Syria, where Iran has a strong military presence, could endanger shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.

"They shall soon await the closure of the Mediterranean Sea, (the Strait of) Gibraltar and other waterways," Tasnim quoted Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, coordinating commander of the Guards, as saying.

Iranian-backed Houthis began launching suicide drones and missiles at commercial vessels in the Red Sea in mid-November following Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call to block Israeli commerce.

The US last week announced a naval coalition involving 20 countries aimed at helping safeguard vessels from attacks in the Red Sea. However, it is not clear if the naval coalition is a defensive arrangement or will conduct retaliatory attacks to deter the Houthis.

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