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Iran accuses Israel of attack that exploded natural gas pipeline

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Israeli attack on an Iranian natural gas pipeline last week caused multiple explosions on the line, Iran’s oil minister alleged Wednesday, further raising tensions between the regional archenemies against the backdrop of Israel’s war on Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

The accusations by Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji come as Israel has been blamed for a series of attacks targeting Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israel has not acknowledged carrying out the attack. The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to a request for comment.

Iran has long vowed to destroy Israel.

The Feb. 14 blasts hit a natural gas pipeline running from Iran’s western Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province up north to cities on the Caspian Sea. The roughly 790-mile-long pipeline begins in Asaluyeh, a hub for Iran’s offshore South Pars gas field.

Owji earlier compared the attack to a series of mysterious and unclaimed assaults on gas pipelines in 2011 — including around the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Tehran marked the 45th anniversary of the revolution just days before the pipeline blasts.

Israel has carried out attacks in Iran that have predominantly targeted its nuclear program. Last week, the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warned that Iran is “not entirely transparent” regarding its atomic program, particularly after an official who once led Tehran’s program announced the Islamic Republic has all the pieces for a weapon “in our hands.”

Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program comes as groups that Tehran is arming in the region — Lebanon’s terrorist group Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi terrorists — have launched attacks targeting Israel over the war in Gaza. The Houthis continue to attack commercial shipping in the region, sparking repeated airstrikes from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Despite a month of U.S.-led airstrikes, the Houthi terrorists remain capable of launching significant attacks. This week, they seriously damaged a ship in a crucial strait and downed an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

On Wednesday, ships in the Red Sea off the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida in Yemen reported seeing an explosion, though all vessels in the area were said to be safe, according to the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations centers. The UKMTO earlier reported heavy drone activity in the area.

Meanwhile, a suspected Israeli strike killed two people a neighborhood in Syria’s capital, Damascus, on Wednesday, an area where other likely Israeli strikes have targeted members of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

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