Saudi Oil Attacks: Iran-backed Houthis Warn Foreigners to Avoid Oil Installations, Threaten More Strikes at Any Moment

The Yemeni Houthi armed movement, which has claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack on key Saudi oil installations, has warned it could strike again at any moment and warned foreigners to avoid the areas targeted.

In a statement issued via the group's al-Masirah TV outlet on Monday, Houthi armed forces spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Sare'e said such attacks will continue until the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen withdraws.

The attack targeted the Abqaiq and Khurais refineries in the east of the country, forcing Saudi Arabia to shut down half of its oil production and prompting a spike in crude prices worldwide.

Sare'e said the attack—named the Second Operation of Balanced Deterrence—employed 10 Houthi drones.

However, the U.S. has instead suggested that Iran was behind the operation, alleging the refineries were hit by a combination of drones and cruise missiles launched from the north of the impact site, rather than Houthi positions in Yemen to the south. U.S. officials also said there were 19 impact points at the site, the BBC noted.

Iran, which is funding and arming the Houthi rebels in their war against a Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of Yemen's deposed government, has denied the accusation.

Sare'e also warned foreign companies and workers to avoid the sites in Abqaiq and Khurais, claiming a repeat attack could be launched at any moment. The brigadier general said Houthi forces can hit vital Saudi infrastructure at will, and vowed that attacks would continue until the Saudi-led coalition ended its "aggression" and "siege" on Yemen, al-Masirah TV reported.

President Donald Trump said Sunday that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" to respond to the attack and that he was consulting with the Saudis as to next steps. On Monday, he stressed that while he does not seek a conflict, the "U.S. is more prepared than anyone."

Riyadh has so far refrained from directly blaming Iran for the attack, but has said it will "forcefully respond to these aggressions."

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran relations had, until this weekend, appeared to be lessening after months of brinkmanship and posturing.

The oil infrastructure attacks appear to have dashed any hopes of detente between the two nations, scuppering President Emmanuel Macron's efforts to facilitate a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

Indeed, Iran has now said Rouhani will not meet with Trump at the event. At a press conference on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyed Abbas Mousavi said the proposed meeting "will not be held," according to the state-run Fars news agency.

Saudi Arabia, oil, Iran, Houthis, attack
Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia's eastern province on September 14, 2019. -/AFP/Getty Images/Getty