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Exclusive-report: US investigation says the attacks of two Saudi oil facilities came from the north

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The United States said new evidence and an analysis of the wreckage of weapons used in an attack on Saudi Arabia’s two oil facilities on September 14 indicated that the attack was likely from the north, reinforcing its earlier assessment that Iran was behind the attack.

In a preliminary report on the investigation, seen by Reuters, before being presented to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, Washington conducted an assessment saying that one of the drones crossed a site about 200 km northwest of the attack site before hitting its targets.

“When adding this to the maximum possible range of 900 km for the drone, it is highly likely that the source of the attack will be north of Abqaiq,” the report said, referring to the location of one of the two Saudi oil facilities targeted.

He added that the United States has identified some similarities between the drones used in the attack and the drones designed and produced by Iran known as the IRN-05.

But the report indicated that that analysis of the weapons wreck did not conclusively reveal the location of the launch of the attack, which initially caused the reduction of Saudi oil production by almost half.

“Until that moment, the American intelligence services did not specify any information from the weapons systems that were recovered after they were used in the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia, which conclusively reveal the source of the attack,” he said.

A US State Department official told Reuters that the new evidence includes information whose confidentiality was recently revealed.

The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia have been blamed for the September 14 attacks on Iran. The Yemeni Houthi group allied with Iran claimed responsibility for the attacks, while Tehran denied any involvement. Yemen is located to the south of the kingdom.

Reuters reported last month that the Iranian leadership had given its approval for the attacks, but had refrained from direct confrontation that could cause a devastating US response. According to three officials familiar with the meetings and a fourth official close to Iran’s decision-making circles, Tehran chose instead to target Abqaiq and Khurais facilities in Saudi Arabia, which is allied to the United States.

According to a Reuters report, a source in the Middle East who was informed of the investigations conducted by one of the countries about the attacks said that the location of the launch of the attacks was the Ahwaz air base in southwestern Iran, about 650 km north of Abqaiq.

The report quoted a Western intelligence source as saying that some drones flew over Iraq and Kuwait on their way to launch attacks, which gave Iran reasonable grounds to deny its involvement.

The 17-minute attacks, carried out by 18 drones and three low-flying missiles, caused a sharp increase in oil prices, fires, and material damage that halted the production of more than five percent of global oil supplies. Saudi Arabia said on October 3 it had recovered all of its oil capacity.

– Drones wreck –

The United States will present its findings to a closed session of the UN Security Council as it hopes to mobilize more support for its policy of isolating Iran and forcing it back to the negotiating table to conclude a new nuclear deal.

In a similar report last week, the United Nations said it was “unable to independently verify” that the rockets and drones used in the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities in September were “of Iranian origin”.

The report indicated that the Houthis in Yemen “have not proven that they are in their possession and that it has not been evaluated that they have” the type of aircraft used in the attacks on the Aramco facilities.

The preliminary assessment issued by Washington included a number of pictures of the components of drones, including one that the United States said was “very similar” or “almost identical” to that seen on other Iranian drones.

The report also provided pictures of a circuit board for a compass pulled from the site of the attack and with a seal likely indicating the date of manufacture written according to the Persian calendar.

The name of the company, believed to be linked to Iran, the company SADRA, also appeared on the plait of electrical wires, which was also pulled from the wreckage of the September 14 attacks.

Last year, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran and world powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran with the aim of stopping its oil sales, the main source of the Islamic Republic’s revenue.

As part of its campaign to exert “maximum pressure” on Iran, Washington also imposed sanctions on dozens of entities, companies and individuals in an attempt to halt sources of revenue to Iran in a move that some analysts indicated had forced the Islamic Republic to act more aggressively.

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