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September 19, 2019

Oil facilities attack ‘sponsored by Iran’: S Arabia

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September 19, 2019

RIYADH: An attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry came “from the north” and was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran”, a military spokesman has said.

Colonel Turki al-Maliki, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday in Riyadh, did not elaborate, but to the north across the Persian Gulf are Iraq and Iran. The military also showed journalists what they described as an Iranian cruise missile and drones used in the attack.

Officials said the missile, which had what appeared to be a jet engine attached to it, was a land attack cruise missile that failed to explode.

Saturday’s attack struck the world’s biggest oil processing facility as well as an oil field. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed the assault, but the US alleges Iran was behind it. Iran has warned the US that any action against it will “immediately” be met with a response from Tehran, its state-run news agency has reported.

Saudi Arabia also said that it had joined a US-led coalition to secure the Middle East’s waterways amid threats from Iran, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Saudi Arabia it should see the attack as a warning to end its years-long war in Yemen.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted an unnamed official saying the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct. Australia, Bahrain and the UK had already joined the mission.

The coalition aims to secure the broader Persian Gulf region. It includes surveillance of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s oil travels, and the Bab el-Mandeb, another narrow strait that connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden off Yemen and east Africa.

Smaller patrol boats and other craft will be available for rapid response. The plan also allows for nations to escort their own ships through the region. The US blames Iran for apparent limpet mine explosions on four vessels in May.

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