The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was unable to determine the source of the attack – a drone or a missile. There is no information on the victims.
An image showing smoke billowing from one of the tanks of the Iranian oil tanker – Photo: Reuters / Clone SANA
“It is also not known whether it was an Israeli attack or not,” OSDH director Rami Abdel-Rahman told AFP. The same source stated that “the Iranian oil tanker coming from Iran stopped not far from the port of Banias at the time of the attack” and one of its tanks was hit.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is an allied country with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, but an enemy of Israel, which periodically targets Iranian sites in Syria. About ten days ago, Iran accused the Israelis of “sabotaging” its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.
In Damascus, the official Sana’a Agency quoted the Ministry of Petroleum as saying that a fire broke out in one of the tanks of an unidentified oil tanker, “most likely” that it was attacked by a drone off the coast of Baniyas. He said the fire was now “under control.”
This is the first attack of its kind since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011.
Israel, which borders Syria, has carried out hundreds of attacks since 2011, including by drones, against sites of the Syrian force and its allies, Iranian forces and Lebanese fighters from Hezbollah, another enemy of the Hebrew state.
Israel says it wants to prevent Iran from settling in Syria. The Israeli military rarely publicly acknowledges its attacks on Syrian soil.
A Syrian official was killed on Thursday near Damascus in Israeli attacks, according to OSDH. Israel claimed that it responded to a missile fired from Syria and that it had crashed in southern Israel near a nuclear facility.
Several hydrocarbon installations have been attacked in Syria.
In February 2020, four oil and gas sites in central Homs were attacked by armed drones, which led to fires and material damage.
The attacks, which were not adopted, occurred a week after strangers sabotaged the Baniyas marine refinery pipelines. A similar sabotage took place with explosives placed in pipelines six months ago.
The war in Syria, which began in 2011 due to the suppression of pro-democracy protests, has cost the oil industry tens of billions of dollars.
Before the conflict, Syria’s crude oil production was nearly 400,000 barrels per day. In 2020, it totaled only 89,000 barrels per day, according to the Petroleum Ministry.
Western sanctions on oil transportation, as well as US punitive measures against Iran, have made imports more complicated.