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‘Very high probability’ Iran behind Saudi attack, say anonymous US officials

‘Very high probability’ Iran behind Saudi attack, say anonymous US officials
While Saudi Arabia is holding off on assigning blame for the attack on its oil facilities, the US media are pointing the finger at Iran, citing anonymous government officials allegedly familiar with the ongoing investigation.

US and Saudi investigators have determined “with very high probability” that Saturday’s strike was launched from an Iranian base close to the border with Iraq, CNN reported, based on these anonymous sources. 

Both drones and cruise missiles were used to attack the refinery at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field, flying over southern Iraq and Kuwait to avoid Saudi air defenses, according to CNN’s source. This information was also quoted by AFP, but it was unclear whether their source was the same official or a different one.

CBS News quoted a “senior US official” who said the Saudi air defenses did not stop the drones and missiles because they were pointed south, to detect and prevent attacks from Yemen.

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The attack caused widespread damage to Aramco’s oil facilities and crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil output. Most of the production has been restored and things ought to be back to normal by the end of September, the Kingdom’s officials said on Tuesday. 

While Washington immediately blamed Iran for the attack, the Saudi authorities have been more circumspect, with Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman saying they “don’t know” who was behind it just yet.

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France was likewise skeptical, with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian telling reporters he had seen no evidence indicating the origin of the attack just yet. 

“Up to now, France does not have any proof that would allow us to say where the drones came from,” Le Drian, who is on a working visit to Egypt, told reporters on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference with his Egyptian colleague, Le Drian urged a “strategy of de-escalation” and seconded Saudi calls to involve the UN in the investigation.

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Tehran has angrily rejected US accusations of its involvement, with Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi calling it a campaign of “maximum lies” to justify a military intervention. 

The Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the strike, saying it was carried out with 10 armed drones, in retaliation for the Saudi bombing and invasion of their country.

Anonymous officials talking to the media said the US is still gathering evidence and intends to present it to the international community next week, at the UN General Assembly. 

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