U.S. says weapons in Saudi oilfield attack were beyond Houthi capability

By Nick Wadhams on 9/15/2019

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) – There’s no doubt Iran was behind attacks on a key oil facility in Saudi Arabia, two senior U.S. administration officials said, citing evidence that the location and weapons used were beyond the capability of Houthi rebels in Yemen who claimed responsibility.

The officials, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, said evidence suggests that cruise missiles were used in Saturday’s attacks, and that one of the locations hit — the world’s biggest crude-processing facility in Abqaiq — was beyond the range of the rebels’ known armaments.

There were a total of 19 impact points at Abqaiq and at an oil field in Khurais, and equipment used in the incidents that’s been recovered so far was inconsistent with the Houthi statement claiming responsibility, the officials said. The Houthis had said they used unmanned aerial vehicles in the attack.

On Saturday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Iran was behind the attack. Iran’s Foreign Ministry described Pompeo’s remarks as “blind and fruitless accusations.”

The two administration officials on the Sunday call said the only evidence that the Houthis were responsible had come from the group’s statements. But all the other evidence shows it was much more substantial, they said.

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