Israeli minister says Iran giving militias drone training near Isfahan

Defence Minister Gantz says Tehran is using Kashan airbase to train ‘terror operatives from Yemen, Iraq’


Reuters September 13, 2021
Israel's Minister of Defense Benny Gantz arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 27, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

HERZLIYA:

Israel's defence minister accused Iran on Sunday of providing foreign militias with drone training at an airbase near the city of Isfahan, a month after Tehran came under global scrutiny over a suspected drone attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off Oman.

Israel has combined military strikes with diplomatic pressure to beat back what it describes as an effort by its arch-foe, whose nuclear negotiations with the West are deadlocked, to beef up regional clout through allied guerrillas.

In what his office described as a new disclosure, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Iran was using Kashan airbase north of Isfahan to train "terror operatives from Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in flying Iranian-made UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)".

Iran was also trying to "transfer know-how that would allow the manufacturing of UAVs in the Gaza Strip," on Israel's southern border, Gantz told a conference at Reichman University near Tel Aviv.

His office provided what it said were satellite images showing UAVs on the runways at Kashan. There was no immediate comment from Iran.

A July 29 blast aboard the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker near the mouth of the Gulf, a key oil shipping route, killed two crew - a Briton and a Romanian. The vessel is operated and managed by London-based Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli magnate Eyal Ofer's Ofer Global group.

The US military said explosives experts from the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier - which deployed to assist the Mercer Street - concluded the explosion was from a drone produced in Iran, which was accused by other world powers in the attack.

Iran has denied involvement.

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