Scope, precision of Saudi oil attacks show Iran to blame: U.S. officials

A satellite image shows an apparent drone strike on an Aramco oil facility in Harad, Saudi Arabia September 14, 2019. Planet Labs Inc/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The scope and precision of drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities show they were launched from a west-northwest direction rather than from Yemen to the south, where Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, senior U.S. administration officials said on Sunday.

U.S. officials pointed to satellite imagery showing 19 points of impact on the oil facilities. The attacks on Saturday risk disruptions to the world’s oil supplies, and oil prices were expected to jump on Monday.

The officials said they had additional evidence they would reveal in the days to come that would show that Houthi claims of responsibility for the attacks were not credible.

“There’s no doubt that Iran is responsible for this. No matter how you slice it, there’s no escaping it. There’s no other candidate. Evidence points in no other direction than that Iran was responsible for this,” an official told a small group of reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The officials declined to say where they believe the attack was launched. “There are two options, and we have our opinion on which it was,” a second official said, noting the Iraqi government has said it was not from Iraq.

The United States is working with Saudi officials, who have said they have seen signs that cruise missiles were used in the attacks, the officials said.

More than 17 systems were deployed, they said. Not all systems reached their targets, and some were recovered north of their intended destination, they said.

“The Houthi have never struck this far afield in the past because we don’t think that they have that capability. And the Houthi have never struck in this precise and coordinated fashion before,” a second official told reporters.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Simao