IRGC seizes Israel-linked container ship in Strait of Hormuz (video). Israeli Govt: “Pirate Operation”

IRGC seizes Israel-linked container ship in Strait of Hormuz (video). Israeli Govt: “Pirate Operation”

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In the cover image IRGC marine forces have reportedly seized MSC Aries container ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

The special naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have seized Israel-linked MSC Aries container ship near the Strait of Hormuz, official news agency IRNA reports.

The ship was impounded by the Sepah Navy Special Force (SNSF) in a heliborne operation and rappelling of forces on the ship’s deck, the agency said Saturday. “The ship has now been directed towards the territorial waters of our country,” IRNA said.

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The Portuguese-flagged ship, operated by Zodiac Maritime, is owned by Israeli real estate, energy, technology and shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, it added.Zodiac Maritime is part of the Israeli billionaire’s Zodiac Group.

A video released by IRGC shows SNSF commandos rappelling 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.

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

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The incident comes amid Israel bracing for Iranian retaliation after the regime’s April 1 strike on a building in the Iranian embassy compound in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed seven IRGC military advisors, including two generals.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to deal Israel a “slap in the face” in response, and American officials warned on Friday that Tehran could be gearing up for a massive drone and missile strike on Israeli soil over the weekend. It is unclear whether Iran plans further attacks after seizing the MSC Aries.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned the seizure, accusing Khamenei’s “criminal regime” of “conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law.”


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Tensions in the Middle East have mounted further amid anticipation of an Iranian retaliatory strike on Israel following the IDF’s attack on an Iranian consulate in Damascus earlier this month, which killed Iranian top military officials.

Amid reports that Iran could strike targets on Israeli territories, the US has moved its own additional military assets to the region.

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Two Navy destroyers, including the USS Carney, were relocated to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea last week, media reports said, citing a Navy official. The UK, although it has two warships in the region, including the HMS Diamond, reportedly said it had no plans to join US operations off the coast of Israel.

Iran has been considering various assault scenarios, including a direct strike using medium-range missiles, the WSJ reported, citing an adviser to the Iranian military. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, has reiterated his country’s determination to retaliate against any assault, saying, “Whoever harms us, we will harm them.”

More than ten countries have advised their citizens to avoid travelling to Israel, Iran and other territories in the region amid ongoing escalation.

Iran would face “consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further,” Israel warned on Saturday amid rising tensions. The warning followed Iran’s seizure of a container ship associated with Israel in the Gulf of Hormuz, coupled with the United States’ decision to deploy additional troops to the volatile region.


MAIN SOURCES

IRANIAN PRESS TV

RT (former Russia Today)

Sputnik International


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