Iranian ship reportedly hit by missile attack in Red Sea

The reported incident comes amid a growing list of back-and-forth accusations by Iran and Israel of attacks on one another's vessels throughout the Middle East.

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The Saviz, an Iranian ship allegedly 'affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard' has been attacked in the Red Sea, sources told Saudi-owned, Dubai-based television news channel Al Arabiya on Tuesday.

The merchant ship, which US, Israeli and Saudi officials and media have previously claimed may be a covert Revolutionary Guard forward base or intelligence-gathering vessel, was reportedly struck by a missile.

Iran's semi-official Mehrs News Agency reported on the alleged incident pointing to "unconfirmed" reports citing "a Zionist source."

Marine Traffic lists the general cargo ship as "out of range," with its current position shown to be in the southern Red Sea, approximately equidistant to Eritrea and Yemen, and its last check-in reported at 11:59 UTC.

Last reported position of the Iranian-flagged Saviz general cargo vessel, 6 April, 2021.

Some Arab media say that ship may have suffered "great damage." Scattered reports coming out of Israel claim that the missile which hit the ship may have been Israeli.

Neither country has commented on the incident. The Saviz was built in 1999 and its home port is Bandar Abbas.

The ship has reportedly been moored off the Red Sea archipelago of Dahlak since as far back as 2016. Iranian media have previously described the ship as a trade vessel.

Saudi and US officials have repeatedly accused Iran of providing military support to Yemen's Houthi militia, who have been fighting against a Saudi-led coalition since 2015. Iran has praised the Houthis for their struggle, but denied claims that it provides material assistance to the group, citing the coalition's blockade of the country.

Tuesday's alleged incident comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel, with the two countries making back-and-forth claims about attacks on one another's vessels in recent months, and Israel's environment minister recently accusing Tehran of deliberately polluting the country's beaches (Israel's military and intelligence services backtracked on those allegations last month).

In late March, Israeli media reported that an Israeli-owned cargo ship had been damaged after being struck by an "Iranian missile" as it sailed through the Arabian Sea on route from Tanzania to India.

A month earlier, Israel claimed Iran may have attacked another Israeli ship - the MV Helios Ray, in the Gulf of Oman. Iran vocally denied the latter claims, calling it a "false flag operation," and Tel Aviv did not provide any evidence supporting their claims.

Also in March, Iran alleged that Israel may have been responsible for the attack on an Iranian-flagged container ship, the Shahr-e Kord, in the Mediterranean Sea in what it described as an act of "terrorism" and "naval piracy." Israel made no comment on the allegations.

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