The commander of Iran’s Navy, Admiral Shahram Irani, claimed on Monday that Iranian Naval vessels escorted Iranian oil tankers sent to Syria to be transferred to Lebanon, according to the Fars News Agency.
Irani additionally claimed that Iranian naval fleets escort ships to the mouth of the Suez Canal, with two destroyers stationed in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
After a fuel tank exploded in northern Lebanon in August, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced that Iranian oil would be shipped to Lebanon, even without the coordination of the Lebanese government.
Three ships of Iranian oil have so far reached the Baniyas port in Syria and been transferred by truck to Lebanon.
Nasrallah warned before the first ship departed Iran that “from the moment the Iranian ship sails, [Hezbollah] will consider it Lebanese territory.”
After the first tanker arrived in Syria, Nasrallah stressed that the ships safely arrived, despite concerns by some that Israel would not allow the oil to reach Lebanon. “Some bet that Israel would not allow the ships to reach Lebanon, but they missed that the Israeli was in trouble,” said Nasrallah. “The existing deterrence equation in Lebanon and the introduction of ships to Lebanon within this equation allowed the arrival of the first ship and the incoming ships as well.”
Nasrallah’s initial announcement in August came as tensions ran high between Israel and Iran after an Iranian drone strike targeted the Israeli-managed Mercer Street tanker off the coast of Oman in July, killing a British and Romanian citizen. The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel have all threatened retaliation. Iran has denied responsibility and claimed Israel and the US are attempting to destabilize the region.
A few days after the attack on the Mercer Street ship, Iranian forces reportedly attempted to hijack the Asphalt Princess tanker near the United Arab Emirates but jumped ship after workers sabotaged the engines, according to The Times of London.
In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had attacked a dozen Iranian oil tankers headed for Syria. After Nasrallah’s speech in August, Hezbollah-affiliated operative Ali Shoeib tweeted that there was now a new equation with Israel: “a tank for a tank,” an apparent warning to Israel not to attack tankers carrying Iranian oil to Lebanon.