U.S. accuses Iran in drone attack on Saudi Aramco plants

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON โ€“ U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused Iran of leading attacks on Saudi oil plants that cut the kingdom's output roughly in half, ruling out Yemeni involvement and denouncing Tehran for false diplomacy. Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed credit for Saturday's attacks on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, including the world's biggest petroleum processing facility. Pompeo, however, said on Twitter that there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen. "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy," Pompeo said, referring to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif. "Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," he added.


Israel hints it could hit Iran's 'air force' in Syria

The Japan Times

JERUSALEM โ€“ Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian "air force" deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 airstrike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites.


Airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria apparently kill 18; Hezbollah claims downing of Israeli drone

The Japan Times

BEIRUT โ€“ Unknown warplanes targeted overnight an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least 18 fighters, Syrian opposition activists said Monday. The strikes come amid rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. An official with an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq blamed Israel for the airstrikes that hit in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military "will act -- and currently are acting -- against them."


In UAE, Trump's adviser warns Iran of 'very strong response' to any attack

The Japan Times

ABU DHABI - President Donald Trump's national security adviser warned Iran on Wednesday that any attacks in the Persian Gulf will draw a "very strong response" from the U.S., taking a hard-line approach with Tehran after his boss only two days earlier said America wasn't "looking to hurt Iran at all." John Bolton's comments are the latest amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran that have been playing out in the Middle East. Bolton spoke to journalists in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which only days earlier saw former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warn there that "unilateralism will not work" in confronting the Islamic Republic. The dueling approaches highlight the divide over Iran within American politics. The U.S. has accused Tehran of being behind a string of incidents this month, including the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the Emirati coast, a rocket strike near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels. On Wednesday, Bolton told journalists that there had been a previously unknown attempt to attack the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as well, which he also blamed on Iran.


Expert on why Saudi Arabia won't explicitly blame Iran for attacks: 'They would be toast'

FOX News

On Fox Nation's "Deep Dive," a panel of experts analyzed the world response to last weekend's crippling attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure and explained why the Saudi government seems hesitant to explicitly accuse Iran of carrying out the strikes. "If you look at the sophistication of the attack, the ranges of the weapons used, and how this was perpetrated, it can only be Iran really," said Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, who is a retired Marine and Senior Research Fellow for Defense Program at the Heritage Foundation. At a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the Saudis displayed broken and burned drones and pieces of a cruise missile that military spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki identified as Iranian weapons collected after the attack. Tehran has denied that it carried out the attacks and Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility. Speaking from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran is responsible for the attack, telling reporters that the strike was "an act of war."