Iraq Watch: Saudi Arabia sends 30,000 troops to border, Iraqi government denies withdrawal

McClatchy Washington BureauJuly 3, 2014 

Mideast Iraq

Iraqi security forces celebrate after clashes with followers of Shiite cleric Mahmoud al-Sarkhi, in front of his home in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, July 2, 2014.


  • Iraq Watch

    The latest news from Iraq. For more Iraq coverage, visit McClatchyDC

— Saudi Arabia has deployed 30,000 troops to reinforce its border with Iraq, according to Saudi-owned television station al-Arabiya.

Al-Arabiya said on Thursday that the troops were sent to the area to fill a void after the Iraqi military withdrew. But the British Broadcasting Corporation and Reuters report that the Iraqi government claims it’s still in full control of the 500-mile border it shares with Saudi Arabia.

Today’s other news from Iraq:

- Iraqi state TV broadcast video footage that reportedly showed Iraqi soldiers fighting for control of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. The video depicts soldiers on street patrols and storming buildings. The battle for Tikrit has been raging all week.

- Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Thursday that 32 Turkish truck drivers who were caputured by The Islamic State last month in northern Iraq had been released. They will be flown home to Ankara.

- The Kurdish president has asked members of parliament to prepare for an independence referendum, moving Iraq closer to formal partition, The Guardian reports.

- Iraqi websites released photos of what they said are hundreds of militants supporting radical Shiite cleric Mahmud al-Sarkhi in Karbala, Zekar and Basra. They were chanting slogans against the government led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, al-Jazeera reports. The militant groups were formed after Sakhri issued a fatwa, or religious proclamation, calling for jihad against the Maliki government, according to al-Jazeera.

- The Iraqi air force raided Mosul, al-Jazeera reports. Locals told Al Jazeera that some raids targeted public markets.

- Al-Jazeera also reports that two civilians were killed and nine injured_most of them women and children_in air raids by the Iraqi government on Falluja in Anbar province to the west of Bagdad.

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