SUWAYF, S Arabia - Saudi security forces on Wednesday ended a weeks-long exercise on the Iraqi border where three troopers died in a January attack blamed on “terrorists.”
Border Guards and other interior ministry units have been conducting daily training as part of the “first joint tactical” exercise north of Arar city, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The exercises began late last month.
SPA said that one scenario involved repelling an attempt “to storm the border with vehicles.” That exercise included 1,500 men from the Border Guards, the high-tech command and control centre, customs department and other agencies, SPA said. The northern border is guarded by a double-fence system and complementary radar and camera surveillance network stretching for hundreds of kilometres (miles). The system has become the front line in efforts to protect the kingdom from Islamic State (IS) group extremists who have seized vast areas of Iraq as well as Syria.
That threat became painfully clear in January when three border guards, including a commander, were killed in the desert scrubland of Suwayf, north of Arar, during a battle with Saudis who infiltrated from the Iraqi side despite the security measures.
“To get it really watertight is almost impossible,” a Western diplomatic source said.
The attack followed the launch in September of the kingdom’s air strikes on IS targets in Syria as part of a US-led coalition, raising fears of retaliation.