Iran Will Respond to Attack on Command Ship in Red Sea, Military Spokesman Says

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Photo released by Nournews today shows the flooded engine room of the MV Zaviz.
Photo released by Nournews today shows the flooded engine room of the MV Zaviz.Credit: Nournews via AP

Iran will "'without a doubt" respond to an attack against its vessel in the Red Sea earlier this week, its military spokesman said on Thursday, saying that Tehran suspected Israel and the U.S. were behind the attack.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that a U.S. official said that Israel notified the United States that its forces had struck an Iranian vessel, calling it "a retaliatory" attack for earlier Iranian strikes on Israeli vessels.

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"Iran will without a doubt respond after the investigation has concluded and we'll know exactly who struck" the ship, he said during a press interview, but added no action would be taken before the matter was thoroughly probed. 

Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that an Iranian vessel, the Saviz, had been targeted in the Red Sea, a day after media reports that the ship had been attacked with limpet mines.

The Saviz, owned by the state-linked Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, is believed to be a base for the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and has been anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen. The ship’s long presence in the region, repeatedly criticized by Saudi Arabia, has come as the West and United Nations experts say Iran has provided arms and support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid that country’s years-long war. Iran denies arming the Houthis, though components found in the rebels’ weaponry link back to Tehran.

The Saviz incident was the latest in a series of reported attacks on Israeli- and Iranian-owned cargo ships since late February. Dozens of attacks on Iranian ships in the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea have been attributed to Israel. Some of these strikes targeted oil shipments from Iran to Syria; others were linked to Iranian attempts to smuggle weapons to its proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Attacks on Israeli ships have been attributed to Tehran.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.