Friendly Fire during Iranian Navy Exercise Leaves 19 Dead

An Iranian Warship sails in the Sea of Oman in Chabahar port, at the Sea of Oman, Iran, December 29, 2019. (Mohsen Ataei/Reuters )

Iran’s navy on Sunday announced that 19 sailors were killed and 15 wounded after a missile struck a support craft during a training exercise.

The ship, which usually carries a crew of 20 sailors, was placing targets in the ocean for other ships to use during the exercise, held in the Straits of Hormuz. Iranian state media revealed the friendly fire incident, signaling the severity of the mishap. Advertisement

The incident marks the second severe friendly fire accident by Iranian military forces this year. The first occurred following the American killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in January. Iran retaliated by launching around 15 ballistic missiles at U.S. positions in Iraq, but hours after that retaliation Iran’s missile defense system shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet taking off from Tehran International Airport.

All 176 passengers and crew were killed. Iran admitted on January 11 that it had accidentally shot down the plane, after denying it had done so for several days.

The U.S. subsequently bolstered its military presence in the Middle East in anticipation of further retaliation. However, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Iran harder than any country in the region with at least 109,000 cases as of Monday, complicating the country’s military operations.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

(C) 2020 National Review

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