New Saudi security force to fight drug and weapons smuggling across mountainous southern border

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Members of the Saudi Arabia's elite Al-Afwaj Regiment. (SPA)
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Members of the Saudi Arabia's elite Al-Afwaj Regiment. (SPA)
Updated 05 May 2019

New Saudi security force to fight drug and weapons smuggling across mountainous southern border

  • The Al-Afwaj Regiment is tasked to interdict drug and weapons smuggling across the Kingdom's mountainous southern border
  • The mountain force is a new unit under the Ministry of Interior

NAJRAN: Saudi Arabia has deployed a newly created force to combat weapons and drug smuggling by infiltrators across the Kingdom’s mountainous southern border. 

The Al-Afwaj Regiment, a new unit under the Ministry of Interior, will act as the primary support force for the Saudi Border Patrol in the regions of Najran, Jazan and Asir, across the border with Yemen.

The regiment was created under the orders of the Minister of Interior, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, and is specifically trained in carrying out security tasks in mountainous areas that include deep valleys and extremely rough terrain.

General Fahad Saeed Al-Qahtani, Under Minister in-charge of the Al Afwaj Force, told Arab News that the regiment is ready and capable of handling any situation they encounter.

“We are prepared to deal with all eventualities with high levels of professionalism,” Al-Qahtani said after reviewing the readiness of the regiment.

"The regiment will combat drug and weapons smugglers and will stop infiltrators from coming into Saudi Arabia," he said.

“We did not begin (our patrols) until all security personnel and officers were trained and fully qualified in patrolling the mountain areas with difficult terrain, which requires that they be skilled in the use of nature and the landscape and also be skilled in the process of surveying and monitoring and tracking violators in order that mountain gaps, valleys, the brush and grasslands not be utilized by them,” he said.

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

Updated 14 min ago

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

  • US official says all options, including a military response, are on the table
  • Washington blames Iran for the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field

RIYADH: Iran provided the weapons used to strike two Saudi Aramco facilities in the Kingdom, the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said Tuesday.

“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran,” coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, adding they were now probing “from where they were fired.”

The coalition supports the Yemen government in the war against the Iran-backed Houthi militants, which claimed they had carried out the attack on Saturday.

US officials have said Iran was behind the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field, and that the raid did not come from Yemen, but from the other direction.

“This strike didn't come from Yemen territory as the Houthi militia are pretending,” Maliki said, adding that an investigation was ongoing into the attacks and their origins.

The Houthis have carried out scores of attacks against Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.

Al-Maliki labelled the Houthis “a tool in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist regime of Iran.”

The attacks against Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Oil prices rocketed on Monday after the strikes.

Iran has denied involvement, something Trump questioned Sunday in a tweet saying “we'll see?”

On Sunday, the US president raised the possibility of military retaliation after the strikes, saying Washington was “locked and loaded” to respond.

The US has offered a firm response in support of its ally, and is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia as a result of the attack, Reuters reported.

A US official told AP that all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.

The US government late Monday produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at the oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.

Iraq said the attacks were not launched from its territory and on Sunday Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that Washington possesses information that backs up the Iraqi government’s denial.

Condemnation of the attacks continued from both within Saudi Arabia and from around the world.

Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council called Tuesday for concerted efforts to hold those behind the attacks accountable.

Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais had consequences well beyond the region and risked dragging Yemen into a “regional conflagration.”