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On September 14, a major Saudi oil refinery was shaken by a series of explosions. The facility and another oil field in the south were attacked by air. Here's what we know – at present – about physical evidence-based attacks.
The impact was large and complex.
Images from commercial satellites released by the US government show at least 17 points of impact on both sites. The larger facility, known as Abqaiq, is one of the most important oil production facilities in the world and has long been a potential target for attack. In this huge factory, the perpetrators seemed to have separated valuable equipment that would be difficult to replace and storage tanks that could contain flammable materials.
USA. Government / DigitalGlobe / AP
The group that claimed responsibility probably did not do so. The Hutus have in the past made numerous drone attacks in Saudi Arabia, but there are a number of reasons to question their last claim.
The first reason is simple math: there were 17 hit points, but Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said only 10 drones had been fired from the rebel group.
The second is the question of distance. The strike facilities are located about 500 miles from Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia. Houthi weapons used so far simply have no scope.
Third is the level of complexity of the attack, according to Fabian Hinz research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. in Monterey, California. "Greyhounds could throw one plane or two drones at Abqaiq? I would say yes, Hintz says. "But could they undertake such an extensive coordinated mission to hit the facility with such great success? Honestly, I would say."
Saudi Arabia showed remnants of drones and rockets that look Iranian
Saudi message, unverified photos popped up on Twitter showing the remnants of a rocket in the desert with striking resemblance to Iranian technology.
Amr Nabil / AP
At a press conference on Wednesday, Colonel Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, showed the remains of several rockets and drones, which he said were recovered from the attack facilities and the areas around
At least one of the winged drones appears to be the type that previously appeared at a military exhibition in Iran, according to images shown by Al Maliki and verified by outside experts.
Al Maliki missiles, described as similar to Iran's Y-Ali cruise missile, a land-based missile, are capable of traversing hundreds of miles with a small warhead. Hint believes that the missiles are more like another Iranian design, a variant of which is known as the Quds-1.
Regardless of the exact type, the missile is clearly Iranian, says Hintz. "I would say that there is little doubt that the cruise missiles we saw originated in Iran."
Impacts on the site are made by objects coming from the west or northwest.
Satellite images show that storage tanks in Abqaiq have been hit northwest, says Al-Maliki. He also claims that the remains of three cruise missiles that failed to reach Abqaiq were recovered north of the site. The trajectories suggest that the missiles were fired from Iran or Iraq.
Frank Pabian, a longtime image analyst, says the strikes look as if they had struck west.
USA. Government / DigitalGlobe / AP
Nevertheless, Hintz says, the direction of the impact does not necessarily mean the point of launch. Both cruise missiles and drones can take chains to their targets.
However, says Hintz, "If we talk about the overall balance of probabilities, they are much more likely to come from the north."
Other sources of information may soon be available.
up close with satellites, drones, radars and other sensors. NPR officials say Pentagon officials say they have images of Iranian forces inside Iran preparing to strike before the attack, according to Tom Bowman of NPR. So far, the United States has not provided any evidence that they have gathered about these drugs or the attack itself.
It is also possible to obtain more details from the remains of drones and rockets. Al-Maliki noted in a press conference that experts continue to analyze the hardware of GPS-driven drones. It is possible to extract the route they flew before crashing. A similar analysis of unmanned boats launched by Houthis in 2016 revealed 93 sets of coordinates that provide clues to the mission of the boats.