Rebels used drones to set fire to the world’s largest oil processing facility and a Saudi Arabian oil field early Saturday morning.
Fox News reported that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels allegedly claimed responsibility for the fires and said more attacks were to come.
“The military spokesman Yahia Sarie said in a short address aired by Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel that the group launched 10 drones in a coordinated attack on the sites,” Fox reported. Sarie reportedly added: “The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us.”
The Khurais oil field is believed to produce over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day. It has estimated reserves of over 20 billion barrels of oil, according to Aramco.
The plant has been targeted in the past by militants. Al Qaeda claimed suicide bombers tried but failed to attack the oil complex in February 2006.
The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh said it was unaware of any injuries to Americans. Saudi Aramco employs a number of U.S. citizens, some of whom live in guarded compounds in the kingdom near the site.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Saudi government planned to cut its oil output by half following the attacks – “a loss of five million barrels a day,” the Journal reported. That’s about 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil. Crude oil is then processed into sweet crude at the processing facility targeted by the drones. The oil is then transported through the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.
John Abizaid, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a former Army general, said: “These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost.”
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The Saudi-led coalition has been battling the rebels since March 2015. The Iranian-backed Houthis hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the Arab world’s poorest country.
The war has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The violence has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine and killed more than 90,000 people since 2015, according to the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, which tracks the conflict.
The drone strikes mark the latest attacks from Iran and Iranian-backed organizations such as the Houthis. In June, Iran shot down a large, expensive U.S. drone. President Donald Trump initially planned to retaliate, but cancelled an air strike at the last minute claiming he worried lives could be lost when no lives were taken by the drone attack.
In late August, The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested the U.S. would have to “lift all the sanctions and bow down before the Iranian people” in order to solve the problems between the two countries.
“Those who have imposed sanctions on our people, and have carried out economic terrorism – any change in our conduct toward them must start with their repentance,” Rouhani said in a translated video. “They must return to their obligations, and change the erroneous path they have chosen. They must act in the service of the world’s interests and security, while maintaining respect for the other. They must recognize our revolution, our regime, and the rights of our people, and they must reject their mistakes. With regard to the relations between Iran and America – unless America gives up the sanctions and rejects the erroneous path it has chosen, we will see no positive change.”