Iran seizes ship "related" to Israel in major operation as tensions threaten to spiral

Tehran, Iran - Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Saturday seized a container ship that they say is "related" to Israel, state media reported, as tensions soar in the region.

Iran said it had seized the container ship MCS Aries, which it says it "related" to Israel, near the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran said it had seized the container ship MCS Aries, which it says it "related" to Israel, near the Strait of Hormuz.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

"A container ship named 'MCS Aries' was seized by the Sepah (Guards) Navy Special Forces by carrying out a heliborne operation," IRNA state news agency reported.

It added that the operation took place "near the Strait of Hormuz", a waterway vital to world trade, and "this ship has now been directed towards the territorial waters" of Iran.

The Iranian report came after two maritime security agencies said "regional authorities" had seized a vessel off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

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"Vessel reported to have been seized by regional authorities" off the coast of Fujairah, the Royal Navy's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations agency said, without providing further details.

Security firm Ambrey said it "observed still footage of at least three individuals fast-roping from a helicopter onto what appeared to be a container ship".

Italian-Swiss Shipping group MSC said Saturday that there were 25 crew members on board the vessel.

Israel's war on Gaza ratchets up tensions to all-time high

A suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consular compound in Damascus, Syria, killed several high-profile officials.
A suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consular compound in Damascus, Syria, killed several high-profile officials.  © REUTERS

The US on Friday said it was sending military reinforcements to the region, after Iran vowed retaliation for a deadly strike on the consular section of its Damascus embassy in Syria almost two weeks ago.

President Joe Biden on Friday said he expected Iran to strike arch-foe Israel, which Tehran blamed for the consular attack, "sooner rather than later".

The April 1 strike killed at least seven members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, including two generals.

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The surging tensions come against the backdrop of the six-month war waged by Israel on Gaza, following the October 7 Hamas attack in which over 1,100 people were killed. The devastating Israeli response has killed close to 34,000 Palestinians and created a humanitarian catastrophe in the territory.

Outrage over the bloodshed has since drawn in regional actors including Iran-backed groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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