INTERNATIONAL

U.S. pulls out Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia

File photo of a Patriot missile battery near Prince Sultan air base at al-Kharj.AFP

File photo of a Patriot missile battery near Prince Sultan air base at al-Kharj.AFP  

It feels threat from Iran has waned

The U.S. is pulling out four of its powerful Patriot missile systems from Saudi Arabia, after determining that the threat from Iran that sparked an arms buildup in the region last year had waned, a Defense Department official said on Thursday.

Two of the anti-missile batteries deployed following the September attacks on Saudi oil installations “are now leaving,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Tehran and Houthi-backed rebels in Yemen were blamed for the combination rocket and drone attack which left two of state oil giant Aramco’s processing facilities — one in Khurais and another in Abqaiq — heavily damaged, roughly halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Two other batteries had been kept in the region in March following an attack by pro-Iran factions on the Iraqi base of Taji, north of Baghdad. Two Americans and one British soldier were killed in the attack.

“I think everyone knew it was going to be a temporary plus-up at the time, unless things got bad, “ the official said. “Things did not get bad, so they had to go.”

Recommended for you