Saturday was filled with reports about an alleged “drone” attack on a tanker off the coast of Syria. According to early reports that were picked up in international media, an Iranian tanker was struck by some kind of attack, causing a fire and even casualties.This appeared linked to previous reports of attacks on a dozen Iranian ships over the last two years and an attack on an IRGC ship in the Red Sea earlier this month.The Iranian and Syrian regimes are now walking back any reports about an attack. A “Syrian military official denied any military operations against the damaged tanker, adding: ‘After completing the expert review of technical factors, the previous news published by the official authorities will be corrected,’” Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported. Three workers who were “welding” on the ship did suffer some burns. That is why there was a smoke and a fire. It was an accident, the reports now say. One worker died at a hospital from burns.“Earlier, some media outlets mistakenly reported that an Iranian ship had been attacked by a drone,” Tasnim reported. “The name of the tanker is Wisdom, and its flag belongs to Panama... This accident occurred due to carelessness and lack of safety measures during the welding operation while attending the SPM and performing the offloading operation.”SPM is the acronym for a Single Point Mooring buoy, where ships can offload or evacuate oil and gas. It is a “floating buoy anchored offshore that allows the handling of liquid cargo in areas where a dedicated onshore facility for loading and unloading cargo is not available,” a website with knowledge about the matter reported. “They serve as a link between shore-based facilities and large oil tankers for loading or offloading oil and gas cargo.”“The tanker seen burning today off the coast of Baniyas is not an Iranian vessel, but a Beirut-registered tanker called WISDOM,” TankerTrackers.com, which tracks tankers around the world, reported. “She has assisted the Iranian VLCC supertanker ARMAN 114 (ex. ADRIAN DARYA-1) by offloading 300-350K barrels at a time due to depth restrictions.” Samir Madani, an expert who co-founded TankerTrackers, cast doubt on the welding story.“Welding on a fully laden tanker while discharging oil at an SPM?” he said. “I have read Syria’s maritime safety protocols. You’re not even allowed to strike a match. It was most likely something that got past the Russian Navy, and it is embarrassing because they can’t guarantee safety.”Video from the Arman 114 showed a helicopter bringing aid to the Wisdom. The Adrian Darya was seized by British commandos in July 2019 but then released. It then went to Syria to allegedly offload oil in October 2019. It was previously known as the Grace and was once known as the most tracked ship in the world.“US special representative to Iran, Brian Hook, emailed the captain of the Adrian Darya 1 about sailing the vessel to a country that would impound it on behalf of Washington,” CNBC reported in 2019.It is part of the shadowy world of Iranian tankers, the shadow war at sea, where countries have tried to interdict Iranian oil exports, and the way Tehran gets around those attempts. Iran also sent ships to Venezuela with gasoline in 2020.The US did seize Iranian fuel last August and offloaded it at sea. Reports that month noted that ships were stopped in the Atlantic Ocean, “where the fuel was offloaded, after exiting the Mediterranean Sea, the officials said.”The US is now seeking a return to the Iran nuclear deal and therefore appears to have reduced pressure on Iran’s shipments.Iran has allegedly attacked three commercially owned Israeli ships in the Gulf of Oman, one of them being the Helios Ray; another is known as the Hyperion Ray. The alleged “attack” on the tanker is not the first incident that was recorded recently, only to then be downplayed. Iran’s media claimed there was an accident in Israel involving a missile factory, which also apparently never happened or was not as described.The region is tense, and every small fire or bit of smoke can appear to be an attack.On the other hand, there are questions about what happened aboard the ship off Syria and whether the new Syrian and Iranian cover story downplaying the incident may be for other reasons, such as to obscure their lack of security and failure to protect the ship.