Saudi Prince Blames Iran for Pipeline Drone Attack Amid Calls for US Strikes

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarSaudi Arabian city view with the 'Kingdom Tower', background, and 'Al-Faislia Tower' in Riyadh. (File)
Saudi Arabian city view with the 'Kingdom Tower', background, and 'Al-Faislia Tower' in Riyadh. (File) - Sputnik International
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This comes after President Donald Trump told acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Thursday that he does not want the US to go to war with Iran. Earlier, the US sent an aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf to send “a clear and unmistakable message” to the Islamic Republic.

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has claimed in a tweet that a recent drone strike, which shut down a key oil pipeline in the kingdom, was “ordered by the regime in Tehran, and carried out by the Houthis”.

His remarks came as the Arab News newspaper published an editorial in which it called for “surgical” US strikes on Iran in retaliation.

It’s “clear that [US] sanctions are not sending the right message” to Iran and “they must be hit hard”, the article said without specifying targets in the Islamic Republic.

READ MORE: Iran Cleric Warns US' Expensive Fleet 'Can Be Destroyed by One Missile' – Report

This was preceded by Saudi Arabia saying on Tuesday that it had halted pumping fuel through a major oil pipeline after it was hit by unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Saudi-led coalition retaliated by launching airstrikes on Houthi targets in the Yemeni capital Sanaa which reportedly killed at least six people, and wounded 40 more.

In late March, Gholamali Khoshrou, Iran's ambassador to the UN, argued that Riyadh accuses Iran of supporting Houthis in order to “cover up its defeats in Yemen”. In another development that month, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) denied that Tehran had provided the Houthi movement in Yemen with ballistic missiles, according to the Tasnim news agency.

READ MORE: Pompeo Says Iran is 'Major Destabilizing Influence' the US 'Aims to Fix'

The ongoing conflict in Yemen between the armed opposition Houthi faction and the Saudi-backed government headed by exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi began in 2015. After Hadi requested support from Riyadh in fighting the Houthis, tens of thousands of civilian casualties have died in airstrikes, with hostilities showing no sign of abating.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, a fighter jet flies over Iranian flags during the army parade commemorating National Army Day in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Thursday, April 18, 2019 - Sputnik International
Trump Won't Risk a War He's Not Certain to Win - Analyst on US-Iran Escalation
Meanwhile, relations between the US and Iran have continued to deteriorate as Washington sent an aircraft carrier strike group close to Iran's borders amid reports that the Pentagon plans to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the region to restrain what it describes as a threat emanating from Tehran which denies the allegations.

At the same time, President Trump voiced hope on Thursday that the US was not going to war with Iran.

READ MORE: Iran Showing 'Maximum Restraint' in Face of US Exit From Nuclear Deal — Zarif

The Islamic Republic, in turn, suspended some of its obligations under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, announcing the move precisely a year after Washington's move to exit from what is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and re-introduce unilateral sanctions against Iran.

The US responded by slapping sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminium, and copper sectors.

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