Saudi oil field attacks: China opposes action against Iran

Beijing: China on Monday threw its weight behind Iran after the US blamed the country for the weekend drone attacks on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, saying that it is not fair to blame Tehran for the bombings without any conclusive probe.

The attacks on Saturday targeted Abqaiq, the site of the largest oil processing plant run by the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, and the Khurais oilfield.

Iran on Monday rebuked the US claims that it was behind drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil establishments that halved the country's oil output and sent prices skyrocketing.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday blamed Iran and said there was no evidence to suggest the attacks were carried out from Yemen despite the fact they were claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels there, Efe news reported.

US President Donald Trump said his country's intelligence had an evidence pointing to a culprit, although he failed to specify who he thought was behind the attack. He said the US was "locked and loaded" and was just waiting for input from Riyadh on how to proceed.

Denying the claims made by the US, Iranian Foreign Minister's spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: "These accusations are unacceptable and completely unfounded."

"The Saudi-led coalition with Western powers has committed extensive war crimes in Yemen and it is natural that the people and the Yemeni Army responds to those," he added.

The Houthis a Shia militia engaged in a protracted civil war against the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, which has the military support of a Saudi-led coalition claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing by 10 unmanned aircraft of two refineries belonging to Aramco. On Monday, they warned they could carry out further attacks against the company. In the wake of the attack, Riyadh dropped its oil output by 50 per cent.

Speaking to the US media, several unnamed intelligence sources said they had evidence suggesting that, contrary to the Houthi claims, Iran had launched a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 unmanned drones from its territory, according to Efe news.

"The war is between the Yemenis and the Saudis and does not have anything to do with the Islamic Republic," Mousavi said, insisting that Tehran's outspoken support for the Houthi rebels was purely political.

-By K J M Varma