Drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in May originated in Iraq, not Yemen, US officials have concluded, drawing questions from Iraqi officials who have asked Washington for more information supporting the claim, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
US officials familiar with the intelligence on the May drone attacks say they originated in southern Iraq, the Journal reported, saying that most likely pointed a finger at Iran-backed militias in that region.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis said they carried out the drone strikes against the East-West pipeline.
The drone attack happened two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged by sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The attacks took place against a backdrop of US-Iranian tension following Washington’s move last month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.
The State Department declined to comment on the report.
On May 14, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih said that two oil-pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, calling the attack “an act of terrorism” that targeted global oil supplies.
At a weekly news conference on Tuesday, Iraq’s prime minister denied allegations that drones which targeted Saudi oil pipelines last month could have taken off from Iraq, rather than Yemen.
“All of our intelligence services and our air force denied these reports because the air space is known,” Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said. “As far as we are concerned, we have no proof and we have no evidence in this matter.”
He said none of the Iraqi intelligence or military services that monitor its air space detected any launch. “There was no movement on that day on this subject,” he said.