September 16, 2019 / 3:09 PM / a month ago

U.N. Yemen envoy says 'not entirely clear' who is behind Saudi oil attack

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths attends a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that it was “not entirely clear” who was behind Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities but he said it had increased the chances of a regional conflict.

“It’s not entirely clear who was behind the attack, but the fact that Ansar Allah has claimed responsibility is bad enough,” Griffiths told the council, using the official name of Yemen’s Houthi group. “This extremely serious incident makes the chances of a regional conflict that much higher.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the Security Council that emerging information on attacks on Saudi oil facilities “indicates that responsibility lies with Iran” and that there is no evidence the attack came from Yemen.

The Saudi-led military coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi movement said that the attack on Saudi Arabian oil plants was carried out with Iranian weapons and was not launched from Yemen according to preliminary findings.

The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014 by the Houthis.

The Houthis stepped up drone and missile attacks on Saudi cities this year. The conflict is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told the Security Council: “We’re still assessing what happened and who’s responsible for the attacks. Once this has been established, we will discuss with our partners how to proceed in a responsible manner.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Marguerita Choy

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