Source: ‘High probability’ Saudi attack launched from Iranian base near Iraq
Saudi and US investigators have determined “with very high probability” that the weekend attack on the Saudi oil industry was launched from an Iranian base in Iran close to the border with Iraq, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The attack involved cruise missiles flying at low altitude, the source said, and their trajectory was from the north of the Abqaiq complex, which was struck by more than a dozen projectiles in the early hours of Saturday morning. The source added that there is absolutely no indication that these missiles came from a southern area and especially not one as far as Yemen.
The missiles, according to the investigators’ current assessment, flew over southern Iraq and through Kuwaiti airspace before reaching their targets. The trajectory would imply that the launch point of the attack was being masked.
Kuwait on Monday announced it had launched an investigation into reports of sightings of drones or missiles shortly before the Saudi targets were hit.
CNN was trying to reach Iran and the US Department of Defense for comment.
On Saturday, the Yemen-based Houthis — backed by Iran — took responsibility for the attacks and claimed to have used ten drones to hit the Saudi oil targets. But the US and the Saudis have discounted the claims.
A US official told CNN on Monday that the US has assessed that the attack originated from inside Iran, the official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
The source told CNN that US weapons system investigators are in Saudi Arabia to assist in the investigation, and to establish how many missiles struck the two complexes — Abqaiq and the Khurais oilfield — as well as the design of the missiles. This would help determine the origin of the technology involved and which country possesses it.
So far, no evidence has been made public, however that task may be made easier for investigators by the fact that some of the missiles failed to reach their targets, the source said, and wreckage was recovered from the desert.
“Some are in a good enough state to determine their origins,” the source added.
Since the accusation was first leveled by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Iran was behind the attack, the country has consistently denied it.
Responding to Pompeo’s weekend accusation, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said “such blind accusations and inappropriate comments in a diplomatic context are incomprehensible and meaningless.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Pompeo turned to “max deceit” in blaming Iran for the attack.