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Netanyahu blames Iran for ship attack, Tehran denies charge

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of a recent attack on an Israeli-owned ship, noting his country was regularly “striking” its arch-foe in comments that followed an overnight raid on Syria.

Iran has denied any role in the explosion last Thursday that hit the MV Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman, leaving two holes in its side but causing no casualties.

The latest escalation between the sides came as the international community has been trying to salvage the troubled 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

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“It is indeed an Iranian act, that’s clear,” Netanyahu told public broadcaster Kan.

“As for a reaction — you know my policy,” he continued.

“Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I’m determined to block it, we’re striking at it throughout the region.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded swiftly to dismiss Netanyahu’s claims.

“We strongly deny this accusation,” Khatibzadeh told reporters, adding that “the source of this accusation itself shows how invalid (the claim) is.”

– Syria strikes –

Netanyahu’s remarks came hours after Syrian air defences intercepted what they said were Israeli missiles over Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strike hit the area of Sayyida Zeinab south of Damascus, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah forces are reported to be present.

There was no immediate report of casualties.

The Israeli army refused to confirm its involvement in the attack.

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