Graphic shows location of attacks and range of drones thought to be in possession of Houthi rebels in Yemen.

الشرق الأوسط

تصاعد التوتر بشأن الهجمات على المنشآت النفطية السعودية

By Jordi Bou

September 16, 2019 - The U.S. says Iran was behind two attacks on the Saudi oil industry that sent oil prices soaring. Tehran denies involvement in the strikes, which were claimed by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The attacks on Abqaiq – the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility – and the Khurais oilfield, both run by the Saudi state oil company Aramco, knocked out more than half of the Kingdom’s output.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has said the U.S. was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to the strikes.

Satellite images issued by the U.S. government show multiple points of impact and that attacks came from west-north-west direction, suggesting launch sites in northern Gulf, Iran or Iraq.

Iran has denied claims it was responsible for the attacks, with Iranian officials also warning that US military assets in the region were within range of its missiles.

If the strikes did originate from Yemen, there is evidence that Houthi forces have obtained drone technology in the last year that is capable of reaching the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

According to a panel reporting to the UN Security Council, since September 2018, six drones have been collected that were used by Houthi forces for reconnaissance or attack purposes.

These UAV-X drones contain more powerful engines than the previously studied Qasef-1 drones, which did not allow Houthi rebels to strike further than the southern border regions of Saudi Arabia from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.

PUBLISHED:16/09/2019; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press