The United Kingdom and the United Stated joined Israel on Sunday in alleging Iran carried out a fatal drone strike on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, putting further pressure on Tehran as it denied being involved in the assault.
Calling it an “unlawful and callous attack,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his country and its allies planned a coordinated response over the strike Thursday night on the oil tanker Mercer Street. The strike marked the first-known fatal attack after years of assaults on commercial shipping in the region linked to tensions with Iran over its tattered nuclear deal.
Two crew members were reportedly killed, one a British citizen, the other a Romanian, after the drone attack blasted a hole through the top of the oil tanker’s bridge, where the captain and crew command the vessel, a U.S. official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as an investigation into the attack still was ongoing.
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran. UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on 29 July using one or more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” Raab said in a statement released on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that Washington joined its allies in condemning the attack, which he said “we are confident” that Iran was responsible.
Blinken also said that the U.S. will be consulting with its partners in the region to determine the “next steps to take.’
According to Walla news, Israel had been disappointed by the initial weak response from the international community and had sought more forceful condemnations that would explicitly blame Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said earlier at a Cabinet meeting, while making a point to stare directly into the camera and slowly warn: “We know, at any rate, know how to convey the message to Iran in our own way.”
Raab’s comment came some time after Bennett’s.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and its militia allies have used so-called “suicide” drones in attacks previously.
The chief of Israel’s armed forces spoke with his British counterpart about the incident on Sunday, the Israeli military said
Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi and Britain’s Staff General Nick Carter “discussed recent events in the region and common challenges faced by both countries,” said an Israeli military statement, which did not elaborate nor specifically cite the MV Mercer Street incident.
Updated Sunday, August 1, 2021 at 2:08 pm .