US investigation into Saudi Aramco attack says strikes came from north, ‘likely Iran’

US said new evidence and analysis of weapons debris recovered from an attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities on Sept. 14 indicates the strike likely came from the north - suggesting it was likely from Iran. (Screenshot/AFP)
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Updated 19 December 2019

US investigation into Saudi Aramco attack says strikes came from north, ‘likely Iran’

  • Report: US identified several similarities between drones used in attack and Iranian unmanned aircraft
  • 17-minute strike by 18 drones and three low-flying missiles caused a spike in oil prices

WASHINGTON: The US said new evidence and analysis of weapons debris recovered from an attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities on Sept. 14 indicates the strike likely came from the north, reinforcing its earlier assessment that Iran was behind the offensive.
In an interim report of its investigation — seen by Reuters ahead of a presentation on Thursday to the UN Security Council — Washington assessed that before hitting its targets, one of the drones traversed a location approximately 200 km (124 miles) to the northwest of the attack site.
“This, in combination with 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, referring to the location of one of the Saudi Aramco oil facilities that were hit.


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It added the US had identified several similarities between the drones used in the raid and an Iranian designed and produced unmanned aircraft known as the IRN-05 UAV.
However, the report noted that the analysis of the weapons debris did not definitely reveal the origin of the strike that initially knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
“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.
The new findings include freshly declassified information, a State Department official told Reuters.
The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia blamed the Sept. 14 attack on Iran. Yemen’s Houthi militias claimed responsibility for the attacks, while Iran, which supports the Houthis, denied any involvement.
Reuters reported last month that Iran’s leadership approved the attacks but decided to stop short of a direct confrontation that could trigger a devastating US response. It opted instead to hit the Abqaiq and the Khurais oil plants in Saudi Arabia, according to three officials familiar with the meetings and a fourth close to Iran’s decision making.
According to the Reuters report a Middle East source, who was briefed by a country investigating the attack, said the launch site was the Ahvaz air base in southwest Iran, which is about 650 km north of Abqaiq.
Some of the craft flew over Iraq and Kuwait en route to the attack, according to a Western intelligence source cited by the report, giving Iran plausible deniability.
The 17-minute strike by 18 drones and three low-flying missiles caused a spike in oil prices, fires and damage and shut down more than 5% of global oil supply. Saudi Arabia said on Oct. 3 that it had fully restored oil output.
The US will present its findings to a closed-door session of the UN Security Council as it hopes to mobilize more support for its policy to isolate Iran and force it to the negotiating table for a new nuclear deal.
The report noted that Yemen’s Houthis “have not shown to be in possession, nor been assessed to be in possession” of the type of drones used in the attacks on the Aramco facilities.
Washington’s interim assessment also included several pictures of drone components including the engine identified by the United States as “closely resembling” or “nearly identical” to those that have been observed on other Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles.
It also provided pictures of a compass circuit board that was recovered from the attack with a marking that is likely indicating a potential manufacturing date written in the Persian calendar year, the report assessed.
The name of a company believed to be associated with Iran, SADRA, was also identified on a wiring harness label from the Sept. 14 wreckage, the report said.
US President Donald Trump last year withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran and snapped back sanctions on Tehran with the aim of choking Iranian crude sales, the Islamic Republic’s main source of revenues.
As part of its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, Washington has also sanctioned dozens of Iranian entities, companies and individuals in a bid to cut of Tehran’s revenue streams.


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Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Is Egypt close to finding Cleopatra’s tomb?

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Updated 4 min 27 sec ago

Is Egypt close to finding Cleopatra’s tomb?

  • Rival theories hold key to solving mystery of queen’s burial crypt

CAIRO: More than 2,000 years after her death, Cleopatra — the enigmatic queen of the pharaohs — is creating a riddle for archaeologists desperate to find her tomb.

Conflicting reports and news stories on the undiscovered burial crypt are making the search for the elusive tomb increasingly confusing.

Foreign media claim the recent uncovering of two mummies in Egypt will help in the hunt for the tomb, a puzzle that continues to elude archaeologists.

The UK newspaper The Guardian reported that two mummies of high-ranking individuals who lived during the same period as Cleopatra were found 30 km from Alexandria, the Egyptian city overlooking the Mediterranean.

The newspaper said that although the burial chamber was hidden for 2,000 years, the mummies were in poor condition due to water leaks.

However, a source in the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said that the discovery reported by The Guardian is not new and happened several years ago.

Evidence revealed that the mummies were originally completely covered in gold leaf, a luxury granted only to those from the highest class of society.

Archaeologists say the two may have known Cleopatra herself.

Many Egyptologists believe that Cleopatra’s tomb is located in Alexandria, where she was born and ruled from her royal palace.

The city was destroyed in A.D. 365. Experts believe the last remnants of the tomb could be about 50 km away in the ancient temple of Taposiris Magna, built by the Ptolemies, the Greek rulers of ancient Egypt, in the Nile delta.

The temple is said to contain hidden paths and tombs. Cleopatra’s tomb is thought to be located there, decorated with gold leaf. Researchers say the tomb will answer 2,000-year-old questions surrounding her death.

However, Salwa Hussein, a professor of Greek and Roman antiquities at Tanta University, said that there is no scientific evidence of her burial in the region.

Cleopatra was no ordinary person, and her tomb must be in a more important and visible place, he added.

“She was the last queen of Egypt and one of the most famous rulers in history. She married the Roman emperor Julius Caesar and fell in love with his minister, Antonio. The queen committed suicide with Antonio in 53 B.C. after the Roman leader Octavian captured her in Alexandria,” Hussein said.

According to the legend, Cleopatra directed servants to smuggle snakes into her cell, which poisoned and killed her.

Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist and former minister of state for antiquities affairs, hopes there are further attempts to locate the tomb.

“We have only discovered 30 percent of Egyptian antiquities. The rest have not yet been discovered. We are very close to finding the right location for the tomb. We hope we are on the right track,” he said.

Hawass said he believed Cleopatra and Antonio were buried in the same grave.

However, a number of Egyptian archaeologists disagree.

According to the book “Alexandria ... the Library and the Academy in the Ancient World” by Mohamed Abdel-Moneim Amer, Cleopatra’s tomb was not far from the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Alexander’s tomb in Alexandria, said to be made of gold, was taken by Ptolemy XI in 101 B.C. and replaced with a glass sarcophagus.

Amer said that Cleopatra lived in an era of droughts, as evidenced by valuables found in the tombs of her family.

Archaeologist Alaa El-Shahat said that Cleopatra’s tomb, as well as the rest of the tombs of the Ptolemaic kings, are located in the royal district in the middle of modern-day Alexandria.

The district was home of royal palaces and theaters, such as Kom Al-Dikka, the Roman theater.

El-Shahat said it was possible that the tomb is located in a central neighborhood.