Saudi Arabia rushes troops to border after Iraqis pull out

Jul 3, 2014

Kingdom mobilises 30,000 soldiers after Iraqi forces apparently abandon their positions

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has deployed 30,000 troops along its 500-mile border with Iraq after as many as 2,500 Iraqi troops withdrew from their positions in the face of advancing Sunni insurgents from Isis, the Financial Times reports.

The news comes from pan-Arab TV station Al Arabiya. There has been no comment from the Iraqi government on the withdrawal of troops and it is not known how many troops pulled back, or whether they were ordered to withdraw or simply abandoned their posts.

Abu Abd al-Naami of the General Tribal Revolutionaries, who claims to speak for tribes across Iraq, said: "The militias and security forces of the Iraqi government from the western border [with Saudi Arabia] have withdrawn because of the advances of the revolutionaries."

He added: "They began withdrawing on Monday and finished withdrawing on Tuesday, when we gave them a four-hour deadline to retreat safely." Isis forces are occupying Iraq's second city, Mosul, which is close to the Syrian border.

The Al Arabiya report featured a group of men identified as Iraqi soldiers in retreat. One told the TV station: "We weren't exposed to any attack or anything. We were ordered to withdraw, we don't know what the reason is."

He added: "There were people from our division who refused to withdraw." Al Arabiya suggested some 2,500 Iraqi soldiers are now in the desert east of Karbala after pulling back from the frontier.

Saudi Arabian state news agency SPA reported that the country's King Abdullah has ordered all necessary means to protect the kingdom against potential "terrorist threats" after the Iraqi withdrawal left the border unprotected.

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