Arab Coalition Spokesperson Colonel Turki al-Maliki said on Wednesday that Saturday's attack on two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran” and “did not originate from Yemen despite Iran's best efforts to make it appear so.” He added that the drones used in the attack were outside the range of the drones used by the Houthi militia.
“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran. We are working to know the exact launch point,” al-Maliki said in a press conference.
Al-Maliki called the attack on Abqaiq “an attack on the global economy” and said that 25 drones and cruise missiles struck the Aramco oil facilities and were flying from north to south.
He said the attacks in Abqaiq and Hijrat Khurais oilfield are an extension of attacks on Afif and Dawadmi which occured on May 14.
Al-Maliki showed journalists the remains of the weapons while stopping short of directly accusing Iran of launching the assault.
On Saturday drone attacks caused fires at two Saudi Aramco facilities, in Abqaiq and Hijrat Khurais oilfield.
Iran launched nearly a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 drones from its territory in the attacks, according to a senior Trump administration official.
The attacks knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production and damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant. Saudi Arabia's energy minister said late Tuesday that more than half of the country's daily crude oil production that was knocked out by an attack had been recovered. He said production capacity at the targeted plants would be fully restored by the end of the month, in part by drawing from Saudi reserves of crude oil.
US intelligence shows that the attack originated from Iran and the Arab Coalition’s preliminary findings showed the weapons were made by Iran.
Iran denied US accusations it was to blame and said it was ready for “full-fledged war.” It warned the US it will retaliate “immediately” if Tehran is targeted for the attack, its state-run news agency reported Wednesday.
While the Iran-backed Houthi militia claimed responsibility, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly blamed Iran and said there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.
“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” Pompeo tweeted.
Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 14, 2019
Pompeo is scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia Wednesday to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the recent attack and coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region.
President Donald Trump said on Sunday the US was “locked and loaded” to hit back after Saturday’s attack. He announced on Wednesday new sanctions against Iran.
“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” Trump said in a tweet.
I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
The Saudi military planned to speak to journalists Wednesday in Riyadh to discuss their investigation “and present material evidence and Iranian weapons proving the Iranian regime's involvement.”
“Almost certainly it’s Iranian-backed,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, told the BBC. “We are trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region.”
On Wednesday the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Saudi Arabia joined a US-led naval coalition to secure the Mideast’s waterways. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom already have joined the mission.
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