Oil tanker off Syria coast on fire; government says drone attack

The latest attack follows several previous ones amid tensions with Iran, Israel and US

Syria's oil ministry said a fire has erupted in a tanker on its coast after what it said was a suspected drone attack on Saturday.

The official state news agency said the fire in the oil tanker outside Baniyas refinery has been extinguished.

The oil ministry said the fire started after a suspected drone attack that originated from the Lebanese territorial waters. It provided no further details and did not specify where the tanker was arriving from.

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Syria's oil resources are mostly outside of government-controlled areas but two of its refineries are operating. This makes Damascus reliant on Iran for fuel. But U.S. Treasury sanctions have targeted a network that spanned Syria, Iran and Russia responsible for shipping oil to the Syrian government.

There has been a series of mysterious attacks on vessels in recent months. They have come amid rising tension in the region between Iran, Israel and the United States.

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There was an attack earlier this month on an Iranian cargo ship that is said to serve as a floating base for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces off the coast of Yemen. The shadow war in the Mideast waters first burst into the open in 2019 when the U.S. Navy blamed a series of blasts in June that year in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Iran.