The Iran-led “Resistance Axis” was “probably” behind the explosion that struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman on Friday, an Iranian newspaper close to the country’s supreme leader claimed in a piece published on Sunday.
The piece, titled “Evil in Syria and Iraq was answered in Yemen and the Gulf of Oman,” insinuated that the explosion was an elaborate operation carried out by Iranian or Iranian-backed forces in response to US and Israeli attacks against Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq.
The ship was “probably ambushed by one of the branches of the Resistance Axis,” Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, reported.
The “Resistance Axis” refers to an Iranian-led alliance of state and non-state actors in the region.
The Israeli-owned ship, named MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion in the Gulf of Oman sometime between Thursday and Friday morning. The cause was not immediately clear and no casualties were reported.
“Since the owner of the ship is close to the head of the Mossad, the possibility that this ship was looking to engage in espionage in the Gulf is strengthened,” Kayhan, considered Khamenei’s unofficial mouthpiece, claimed.
Israeli media named the ship’s owner as Rami Ungar, an Israeli businessman.
Lack of casualties in the explosion shows the operation was carried out “cleanly and professionally,” the newspaper said.
Recent US “crimes” against the axis have caused it to “intensify its retaliatory operations and to strike at American forces from time to time,” the piece said.
The US carried out airstrikes on Friday against Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria, which Iran condemned.
Washington said its strikes were in response to the rocket attacks on US targets in Iraq.
Since normalising relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Israel has sought to “strengthen its presence in the Gulf so that it can pursue its crimes against the Resistance Axis more closely,” Kayhan also claimed.
Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday his “initial assessment” was that Iran was responsible for the explosion.
The Gulf of Oman saw a series of explosions in 2019 that Washington blamed on Iran. Tehran denied any involvement.