Leaders of the Iran-backed Houthi militia have told Saudi Arabian officials that they did not carry out the attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities and covered for Iran by claiming responsibility, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) quoted two Saudi Arabian officials who are in talks with the Houthis as saying on Sunday.
“The Houthis informed us that they did not carry out the operation on Abqaiq and Khurais, and they did not expect the gravity of what Iran has asked them to do by claiming the responsibility,” the WSJ reported one of the Saudi Arabian officials as saying.
According to the report, the Houthi leaders also informed the Saudi Arabian officials that Iran was planning follow up attacks.
The Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Hijrat Khurais last Saturday, a narrative which Iran has promoted but other countries have dismissed as implausible.
The US says that all indications show that Iran was behind the attacks, and investigations by the Arab Coalition have shown that the weapons used were Iranian and launched from the north-northwest, not Yemen to the south. Other countries have joined in attributing the attacks to Iran, with the UK saying on Monday that it believed Iran was responsible for the attacks.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s statements denying Iran’s responsibility for the recent attacks “outrageous, outlandish and frankly laughable.”
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz said on Friday that the attacks represent a serious escalation and threat to the security of the region.
He said that Saudi Arabia would take appropriate measures to maintain its security after investigation into the attacks are completed, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to escalate in response to any move against it. Iranian Navy Chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said on Sunday that the country would deliver a “crushing reaction” to any aggression.