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Drone attack on Saudi royal palace launched from Iraq

February 27, 2021 at 11:38 am

Road sign reading ‘Road to Jeddah’ and ‘Road to Iraq’ at the Iraqi-Saudi border on 12 March 2017 [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images]

A Senior Iran-backed militia official in Baghdad has revealed that the January drone attack on the Saudi royal palace was launched from Iraq, Associated Press (AP) reported.

On Thursday, the militia official told AP that three drones were launched from Iraqi-Saudi border areas by a relatively unknown Iran-backed faction in Iraq, and crashed into Riyadh’s royal complex on 23 January.

The comments by the senior Iraqi militia official mark the first time an Iran-backed group has acknowledged that Iraq was the origin of the attack.

He only revealed that the drones came: “In parts from Iran and were assembled in Iraq, and were launched from Iraq,” without disclosing the exact area along the Iraqi-Saudi border from where the drones were launched.

Meanwhile, according to AP, a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that Washington believes that the attack on the Saudi palace was launched from within Iraq, without giving details about how the US reached these findings.

READ: Turkey, Iraq to open a new border crossing

Houthi militias in Yemen sporadically launch attacks on the Saudi capital, but have denied carrying out the attack that targeted the Saudi royal palace on 23 January.

AP reported that launching a strike from Iraq would pose a challenge to Saudi air defences, now focused on Iran’s threats to the northeast and to Yemen from the south. Such drones are also small enough and fly low enough to the ground not to be picked up on radar.

It also stated that the attack comes as Iraq seeks to deepen economic ties with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies over investment projects.