LONDON: An Iranian conspiracy was behind the attack on Saudi Aramco's two oil facilities on September 14, according to a Reuters investigation released on Monday.
The report said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to attack the Aramco facilities in response to the US withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.
It is also revealed in the report that the decision to target Saudi Aramco facilities was made after several secret meetings involving the Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran, and that the Islamic Republic wanted to launch an attack that "stopped short of direct confrontation that could trigger a devastating US response."
The account of the meetings, described to Reuters by three officials familiar with them and a fourth close to Iran’s decision making, is the first to describe the role of Iran’s leaders in plotting the Sept. 14 attack.
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According to the accounts, Khamenei's approval of the operation came with strict conditions: Iranian forces must avoid hitting any civilians or Americans.
The Iranian-backed Houthi militia claimed responsibility soon after the strikes, which was rejected by Saudi and US officials, who said the sophisticated nature of the attack pointed to Iran.
When contacted by Reuters to verify the accounts, a Revolutionary Guards spokesman declined to comment.
Tehran has denied involvement.