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Oil Tanker Explodes In Syrian Port

An explosion on an oil tanker moored at the Syrian port of Latakia caused a fire that has injured two people in an incident on what was identified as a tanker previously used for transporting Iranian oil to Syria.

The tanker, identified by TankerTrackers.com as WISDOM, caught fire on Tuesday while undergoing maintenance at the Syrian port, Syria's state news agency SANA reported. The vessel was empty, the Syrian agency added.

According to TankerTrackers, WISDOM entered the port of Latakia at the end of June, docking on the north end of the port. It relocated later to the south to make room for the Iranian tanker SAM 121.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion on WISDOM.

This is not the first incident with the tanker, which caught fire in April this year, in what Syrian state media said was a drone attack.

The incident comes amid strained relations between Iran and Israel after recent attacks or attempted attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.

The tensions between Israel and Iran have escalated in the past weeks after the drone attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street, which killed two crew members. Israel, the United States, and the UK blamed Iran for the attack.

"Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The Middle East tensions further escalated last week, when a tanker carrying bitumen was the target of a hijacking attempt in the Gulf of Oman in which it was ordered to travel to Iran.

Israel is prepared to attack Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was quoted as saying last Thursday, a week after the Israeli-linked oil tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman.

"Yes," Gantz said when asked in an interview broadcast by an Israeli media website if Israel was ready to attack Iran.

In response to the Israeli defense minister's words that Israel was prepared to attack Iran, the spokesman of Iran's Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, tweeted on Thursday:

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"In another brazen violation of Int'l law, Israeli regime now blatantly threatens #Iran with military action. Such malign behavior stems from blind Western support. We state this clearly: ANY foolish act against Iran will be met with a DECISIVE response. Don't test us."

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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