Does this missile wreckage prove Iran was behind oil plant attack? Rocket 'COULD NOT have been launched from Yemen' as Saudi Arabia warns it will ......
Sept. 17, 2019
An image that shows the blown-up wreckage of a missile, allegedly in a desert in Saudi Arabia , has begun circulating online after the kingdom's oil supplies were attacked at the weekend.
Analysts said it is not possible to identify where or when precisely the image was taken, but that it appears to be new and does not appear to be edited - which means it could offer the first glimpse of how the attack was carried out and by whom.
Officially, the Iran -backed Houthi rebel group fighting in Yemen has claimed responsibility for blasts at the Abqiaiq refinery and Khurais oil field which knocked out 5 per cent of the world's oil supply, saying they used drones.
But Washington disputes this - with officials briefing journalists that the attack used a mixture of Iranian-made drones and missiles, and did not originate in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has also said preliminary investigations indicate Iran was responsible, adding on Tuesday that it is ready to 'forcefully respond'. Iran denies involvement.
The image retrieved from Saudi social media appears to tally with Washington and Saudi's account of the attack, analysts said, because it shows the wreckage of a missile rather than they type of drone the Houthis have used in past attacks.
Fabian Hinz, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, wrote on his blog that the weapon shown in the image appears to be a Quds-1 - a Houthi cruise missile based on an Iranian design.
While the exact specifications of the Quds-1 are not known, Mr Hinz writes that the type of engine it uses and its relatively small frame means that it is unlikely to be able to range the Abqiaiq and Khurais facilities - in northwest Saudi - from Yemen.
'If the pictures showing the Quds-1 wreckage in Saudi Arabia are indeed connected to the recent Abqaiq attack, it would seem more likely that the attack originated from a place closer to Eastern Saudi Arabia than Northern Yemen – potentially Iraq, Iran or perhaps even from ships,' he says.
However, he stresses that information around the attack is currently unclear and this is purely speculation.
He also notes that, while the Quds-1 is thought to have been developed with help from Iran, it is a Houthi weapon and has never be seen in Iran itself, raising doubts over whether it could have been fired from there.
The Houthis have used the Quds-1 in combat themselves, most recently in an attack on Abha Airport in southern Saudi Arabia which wounded 26.
In that instance, the Houthis claimed responsibility and admitted using the missile, begging the question of why they would omit that detail this time around.
On Monday, the White House released satellite imagery which it said indicated the attack came from either Iran or Iraq - where Iran has been training militia groups - because the position of blast marks was located on the north or northwest of the structures, in the direction of those two countries and away from Yemen.
However, an analysis by the New York Times shows at least some of the blast marks faced west, which is not in the direction of any of those countries.
Experts also said cruise missiles and drones can be directed to turn around on their targets, hitting them in the opposite direction from which they were fired.
The near-symmetrical pattern of blast-marks on the buildings do appear consistent with guided missiles rather than drones, they noted, which tallies with Washington's account of the attacks.
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