A damage in the hull of the Iranian-flagged Sabiti tanker (Top L); an Israeli-owned Bahamian-flagged MV Helios Ray cargo ship docked in Dubai's Port Rashid (Top C); an Iranian forces in a helicopter boarding a tanker in international waters in the Gulf of Oman (Top R); a damage of Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous off the port of the Gulf emirate of Fujairah on June 19, 2019 (Bottom L); a burning oil tanker in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast (Bottom C); a Saudi oil tanker Amjad which was one of two tankers that were damaged in mysterious "sabotage attacks", off the coast of the Gulf emirate of Fujairah (Bottom R). AFP
The United States will help investigate a deadly attack on an oil tanker managed by a prominent Israeli billionaire, the State Department said Saturday.
The MT Mercer Street was struck Thursday off the coast of Oman in an incident Israel has blamed on arch-foe Iran.
Two crew members were killed in what the US military and the vessel's operator said appeared to be a drone strike, with US naval forces coming to the aid of the ship in the attack's aftermath.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid and both men agreed to work with other allies "to investigate the facts, provide support, and consider the appropriate next steps," according to a State Department statement.
Vessel operator Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, said a British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in the attack.
On Friday, Lapid said he had ordered the nation's diplomats to push for UN action against "Iranian terrorism".
"I've instructed the embassies in Washington, London and the UN to work with their interlocutors in government and the relevant delegations in the UN headquarters in New York," Lapid said on Twitter.
Analysts said the attack bore all the hallmarks of tit-for-tat exchanges in the "shadow war" between the two Middle Eastern powerhouses, in which vessels linked to each nation have been targeted in waters around the Gulf.