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September 12, 2021 10:10 am
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Israeli Minister Says Iran Giving Militias Drone Training Near Isfahan

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, speaks during an election campaign rally in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, Israel, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Israel’s defense 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, Defense 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.

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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 managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime, near the mouth of the Gulf, a key oil shipping route, killed two crew — a Briton and a Romanian.

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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