US accuses Iran of drone strike on tanker

Deaths of 14 more Israeli soldiers announced as heavy fighting continues in Gaza


HMS Diamond has been sent by the UK as part of international task force to protect Red Sea shipping (Getty Images)

The United States has accused Iran of firing a drone that caused a fire on board a chemical tanker off the Indian coast as Iran continues to exploit the war in Gaza.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have previously attacked shipping in the Red Sea.

But this is believed to be the first time that the US has pointed the finger directly at the Iranians, according to the BBC.

The Pentagon said the Chem Pluto - that was sailing under the flag of Liberia, Japanese owned and operated by a Dutch company - had been struck by “a one-way attack drone fired from Iran” 200 miles off the Indian coast on Saturday morning.

There were no casualties, the BBC said.

It comes as fierce fighting in Gaza claimed the lives of another 14 Israeli soldiers over the weekend, bringing the number of troops killed to 153.

Israel also said that a Hamas commander in charge of supplying weapons to the terror group, Hassan al-Atrash, was killed in an airstrike in Rafah, in southern Gaza.

Iran has not commented on yesterday’s incident off the Indian coast but its Revolutionary Guard have previously threatened to shut international waterways in retaliation against allies of Israel.

An oil tanker reported being in the Red Sea by a Houthi drone yesterday, while anti-shipping missiles were also fired from areas controlled by the rebel group.

Last week, the UK announced that HMS Diamond was joining an international task force to protect ships in the Red Sea after a number of shipping companies suspended operations because of the threat of attack.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said, “These illegal attacks are an unacceptable threat to the global economy, undermining regional security and are threatening to drive up fuel prices.”

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden had a 45-minute telephone conversation with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday.

The president emphasised the need to protect civilians, the White House said, but Mr Biden made clear that he had not asked for a ceasefire.

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