Syria blames Israel for mysterious attacks on oil tankers

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s foreign minister blames Israel for mysterious attacks that have occurred for more than a year targeting oil tankers heading to Syria, saying they violate international law and will not go unpunished.

In an interview aired late Sunday, Faisal Mekdad tells Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which is affiliated with the Hezbollah terror group, that oil tankers coming to Syria now move under Russian protection. He does not provide any evidence for Israeli involvement in the attacks.

Syria’s oil resources are mostly outside of government-controlled areas, although two of its refineries are operating. This makes Syria reliant on Iran for fuel.

US Treasury sanctions have targeted a network that spans Syria, Iran and Russia responsible for shipping oil to the Syrian government, which has been at war for more than a decade.

A screenshot of video aired by Syrian state TV on April 24, 2021, shows a fire on a ship off the coast of Banyas, which Syria says was apparently started after the ship was attacked by a drone. (Screen capture: Twitter)

For more than a year, vessels carrying oil to Syria, as well as some oil facilities in government-held parts of the war-torn country, have been subjected to mysterious attacks.

“There should be deterrence to Israeli attacks on ships,” Mekdad says without elaborating. “The Israeli government and arrogant Israeli leaders must understand that these attacks cannot continue with Israel not paying a price.”

Last month, Syria’s oil ministry said a fire erupted in a tanker on its coast after what it said was a suspected drone attack. Also in April, an attack targeted an Iranian cargo ship that is said to serve as a floating base for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces off the coast of Yemen.

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