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Pentagon denies official said attack on Israel-linked ship came from Yemen

Deputy assistant secretary of defense appeared to say drones that hit Mercer Street were launched from wartorn country, but later clarification says this was not the case

Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, testifies before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on August 10, 2021. (Screen capture; YouTube)
Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, testifies before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on August 10, 2021. (Screen capture; YouTube)

A Pentagon official on Tuesday appeared to say a recent attack on an Israeli-linked ship, blamed on Iran, was launched from Yemen.

Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, was asked during Senate testimony by Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana if she could confirm the attack on the MT Mercer Street was launched from Yemen with Iranian-made drones.

“Yes, I can confirm the reports,” she testified. “This was an Iran-backed, one-way drone attack on the Mercer Street.”

However, the United States Defense Department later denied Stroul was confirming the attack was carried out from Yemen.

“She referred to Friday’s G7 statement & CENTCOM investigation which clearly attributed the attack to Iran but made no mention of a direct tie to Yemen,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tweeted.

Young also asked Stroul during the Senate hearing about Iran’s provision of weapons to its armed proxies in the region, such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“What we see across the region is Iranian arming, training and funding of terror groups, non-state actors and militias across the region,” Stroul said.

Tug boats are moored next to Israeli-linked tanker MT Mercer Street, off the Fujayrah port in the United Arab Emirates, on August 3, 2021. (Karim Sahib/AFP)

Two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed in last month’s attack on the Mercer Street. The ship is operated by Zodiac Maritime, a London-based company belonging to Israeli tycoon Eyal Ofer.

Iran has denied responsibility for the blast, but the West has pointed the finger at Tehran, and analysts have described the operation as part of a shadow war between Iran and Israel.

AFP contributed to this report.

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