Saudi Arabia deploys 30,000 soldiers to border with Iraq

July 04, 2014 - 4:49:22 am

DUBAI: Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said the kingdom  had deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq yesterday after Iraqi forces abandoned the area, but Baghdad denied pulling forces back and said it remained in full control of its frontier.

Saudi Arabia shares an 800km desert border with Iraq, where Islamic State insurgents and other Sunni militant groups seized towns and cities in a lightning advance last month.

The Dubai-based TV said on its website that Saudi troops had fanned out into the border region after Iraqi government forces withdrew from their positions, leaving the Saudi and Syrian frontiers exposed. It aired a video which, it said, showed some 2,500 Iraqi soldiers in the desert region east of the Iraqi city of Kerbala after pulling back from the border, which is reinforced on the Saudi side by a system of fences.

An officer in the video said the soldiers had been ordered to quit their posts without justification.

However, the Iraqi prime minister’s military spokesman, Lieutenant General Qassim Atta, told reporters in Baghdad: “This is false news aimed at affecting the morale of our people and our heroic fighters.”

He said the frontier, which runs through largely empty desert, was “fully in the grip” of Iraqi border troops. Agencies