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Attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities came from the north, not Yemen, US says

Washington says attacks on oil facilities in September were launched from areas north of Abqaiq, reinforcing what MEE reported earlier this year
New analysis from US reinforces what MEE reported earlier this year (Reuters)

Attacks on two Saudi oil facilities earlier this year came from the north and were carried out by drones similar to ones developed by Iran, according to a report published by the US and seen by Reuters.

A US assessment and analysis of weapons debris reportedly found at one of the attack sites said that one of the drones travelled from about 200 km (124 miles) northwest of one of the sites before attacking it.

The US, along with European countries and Saudi Arabia, have blamed Iran for the attacks on the oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, which disrupted Riyadh's oil production. Iran has denied any involvement.

Instead, Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have been at war with the kingdom since March 2015, have repeatedly claimed responsibility.

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The new analysis, which is scheduled to be presented to the United Nations Security Council later on Thursday, appears to reinforce what Middle East Eye reported earlier this year

MEE reported in September that the attacks were carried out by Iranian drones launched from Hashd al-Shaabi bases in southern Iraq.

At the time, a senior Iraqi official told MEE that the attacks on the two Aramco facilities on 14 September were in retaliation for suspected Israeli drone strikes on Hashd al-Shaabi bases and convoys in August, strikes that were said to be co-ordinated and funded by the Saudis.

Thursday's report said the US identified several similarities between the drones used in the oil attacks and an Iranian unmanned aircraft, known as the IRN-05 UAV.

Still, the analysis of the weapons debris did not definitively reveal the origin of the strike, according to the report.

"The assessed 900 kilometer maximum range of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) indicates with high likelihood that the attack originated north of Abqaiq," the interim report said, according to Reuters.

"At this time, the US Intelligence Community has not identified any information from the recovered weapon systems used in the 14 September attacks on Saudi Arabia that definitively reveals an attack origin," it said.

Washington's report also included pictures of drone components that are "closely resembling" or "nearly identical" to those seen on other Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles.

SADRA, a company believed to be associated with Iran, was identified on a wiring harness label from the wreckage, according to the report.