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At Least 19 Iranian Sailors Dead in ‘Friendly-fire’ Incident

Iran on Monday said at least 19 members of its navy were killed the day before during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman, citing “friendly fire.” At least 15 personnel were listed as having been wounded, according to reports issued by state media. Tehran said the sailors were aboard a Dutch-built support vessel tending targets to be used by other naval ships during the exercise, and that the vessel had been struck by a missile. Iran’s navy routinely trains in the area, which is close to the Strait of Hormuz, the transit route for an estimated one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies. The strait and the waters around it have seen several attacks and instances of harassment blamed on the Islamic Republic. Sunday’s friendly-fire incident took place in the waters off the Iranian port of Jask, about 800 miles southeast of Tehran. The country rarely discloses information on military mishaps, but owing to Western sanctions over the decades, much of its equipment, especially in the air force, which still uses aircraft supplied before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is known to be outdated and even unsafe. The vessel struck by the missile is said to be in service since 1988.