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Israeli minister says Iran giving militias drone training near Isfahan

Israeli minister says Iran giving militias drone training near Isfahan

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz adjusts his mask during the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on Aug 1, 2021. (Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS)

HERZLIYA, Israel: Israel's defence minister accused Iran on Sunday (Sep 12) 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 Jul 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.

Source: Reuters/ec

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