Iranian Tanker Reportedly Struck By Missiles In Red Sea

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The Iranian Suezmax crude tanker was struck in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia's coast on Friday, Iranian media said, with various reports differing on the level of damage caused.

A vessel, operated by the National Iranian Oil Company, reportedly caught fire 100 km (about 60 miles) from the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

Tensions in the Middle East have escalated in the wake of attacks on tankers and U.S. drones in the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping artery for global oil trade.

Key Saudi Arabian oil-processing facilities were attacked on Sept 14, a strike that curbed about 5% of global output and was blamed on Iran.

Pressure in the region have been steadily rising since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement and imposed strict sanctions on the country.

Tensions have been running high for months with ships attacked in the region, drones downed and oil tankers seized.

Shana, the news agency of Iran's oil ministry, denied the attack, saying "the tanker in question was completely stable."

The Defense Department announced Friday the deployment of 3,000 USA troops to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia "to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia".

It said the Sinopa was in the Red Sea, according the latest data updated on October 10. That vessel last turned on its tracking devices in August near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. While Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have an on-going war with the kingdom since 2015, claimed the attack, numerous officials and analysts pointed at Tehran. He did not elaborate. The kingdom helped the Happiness 1 reach anchorage off Jiddah, where it was repaired and later left.

It follows attacks on vessels near the Strait of Hormuz, the shooting down of a U.S. military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East.

The cause of the accident for the oil tanker is still unclear but the oil spill to the sea has been controlled, Sardashti added.

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