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Greek Tanker Hit, Iraq Reports Three Ground Attacks

February 12, 1985

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ Iraqi jets rocketed an oil tanker near Iran’s Kharg Island oil terminal, and Iraqi ground forces launched three pre-dawn attacks against Iranian lines Tuesday, officials said.

An Iraqi military spokesman, reading a communique on state-owned Baghdad Radio, said Iraqi planes raided a ″large naval target″ Tuesday morning near Kharg Island, and that the warplanes returned safely to base.

Marine salvage sources in Manama, Bahrain, confirmed that the 264,108-ton Liberian-registered tanker Fellowship L was hit by a missile about 50 mile south of Kharg Island. The sources spoke on condition they not be identified.

The Greek-owned vessel had loaded 230,000 tons of Iranian crude oil and was on its way south into the Persian Gulf when the attack occurred, they said. The crew of 14 Greeks and 12 Pakistanis extinguished a fire that broke out after the attack, and no casualties were reported, the shipping sources said.

The Friendship L is managed by Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. Gulf shipping sources said two of the company’s other tankers have been damaged in previous attacks.

Later Tuesday, Iraq reported attacking another ship in the Persian Gulf, but that report was not immediately confirmed by independent sources.

The attacks were the 29th and 30th reported by Iraq this year against ships in the Persian Gulf. However, only eight of the raids have been confirmed independently.

Iran and Iraq have been at war since September 1980. Iraq imposed a blockade on Iranian oil terminals in January 1983 in an effort to block exports and limit Iran’s oil income.

In Baghdad, an Iraqi military communique said 103 Iranians were killed Monday and Tuesday in a three-pronged attack along the war front which ″occupied new positions.″ The communique did not specify where the attack took place. Iraqi soldiers also launched ″two attacks behind enemy lines″ in the southern Huwaizah marshland, and ″wiped out enemy troops in their positions,″ captured other Iranians, and returned safely to their base, a military spokesman said.

The Iraqi assaults came about two weeks after offensives against Iranian lines in which Iraq claimed to have taken some positions away from Iran.

Iran said nothing about the reported Iraqi attacks, but a military communique said Iranian forces killed or wounded about 100 Iraqi soldiers along the battlefront Monday.

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday that the first stage of a $745 million expansion of the oil export complex at Bandar Abbas was completed and dedicated on Monday, the sixth anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

The news agency said the new complex has 33 docks, 137,000 square yards of warehouse space, and 12 miles of railway track.

The port is on the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entrance of the Persian Gulf. The news agency said the port has been handling most of Iran’s imports and exports since the port of Khorramshahr, at the northern tip of the gulf, was blocked.

The Iranian news agency, quoting a statement by the Information Ministry, also said 20 opponents of the Iranian regime were killed or arrested in Tehran and two provinces. It did not specify the number killed and the number arrested.

Iran also denied a claim by a Paris-based leftist rebel organization, the Mujahedeen Khalq, that it had seriously damaged the building housing the Tehran public prosecutor’s office Sunday night.

The agency quoted official sources in Tehran as saying only a few rounds fired from a heavy machine gun hit the top edge of the building.

Update hourly