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Iran 'staging ground' for Saudi oil attack

September 16, 2019 at 9:00 pm

US officials say intelligence data shows Iran is behind weekend attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Citing anonymous officials familiar with the matter, the Journal said the Islamic Republic was “the staging ground” for Saturday’s attacks and the US officials shared the information with their Saudi counterparts.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the US was quick to deny that claim.

On Twitter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” accusing Iran of launching “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

Iran, however, has denied any role in the coordinated attacks.

A senior official from the Trump administration told ABC News that Tehran launched a dozen cruise missiles and more than 20 drones from its territory.

READ: Kuwait says it’s probing drone sighting, working with Riyadh

The incident prompted a spike in the price of Brent crude, with prices up early Monday by nearly 10%.

Tensions have flared between Washington and Tehran since President Donald Trump chose in May 2018 to unilaterally remove the US from a nuclear pact world powers struck with Iran that provided the Islamic Republic with billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for unprecedented curbs on its nuclear program.

The Houthis, whose medium and long-range ballistic missiles are usually intercepted and neutralized by Saudi Arabia’s air defense system, have repeatedly targeted strategic locations in the kingdom with armed drones.

Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi group overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated the following year when Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains to support the country’s pro-Saudi government.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the raging conflict since 2016, according to UN estimates.