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Explosion reported at Syria’s Latakia port on ship that may be Iranian

Initial reports say blast caused 2 light injuries and considerable damage, amid escalating maritime tensions in region

Smoke billows from a ship at the Latakia harbor in Syria, following a reported explosion, August 10, 2021. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Smoke billows from a ship at the Latakia harbor in Syria, following a reported explosion, August 10, 2021. (Screenshot: Twitter)

A major explosion occurred on a commercial ship docked at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday afternoon, according to Arabic-language media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

According to SOHR — a pro-Syrian opposition organization of uncertain funding based in the UK — the explosion “left casualties and caused considerable material damage.” Some reports said the targeted ship was Iranian.

Syrian state media reported a fire broke out on the ship that has since been brought under control and that two people were injured.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known.

The incident came amid rising tensions in the region. On July 29, armed UAVs in the Gulf of Oman struck the Mercer Street, a ship operated by an Israeli-owned company in the UK. Two sailors — from Britain and Romania — died in the attack.

Analysts have described the operation as part of a shadow war between Iran and Israel, which includes strikes on Tehran-linked sites in Syria.

On August 3, the Asphalt Princess was stopped and boarded in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran is believed to be behind both incidents, but denies responsibility.

On Friday, G7 countries blamed Tehran for the Mercer Street attack, saying that “Iran’s behavior, alongside its support to proxy forces and non-state armed actors, threatens international peace and security.”

“We call on Iran to stop all activities inconsistent with relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and call on all parties to play a constructive role in fostering regional stability and peace,” they said.

Also Friday, the US Central Command said that remnants from one of three explosives-laden drones that targeted the MT Mercer Street indicated it was produced in Iran.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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