SAUDI ARABIA announced at the weekend that it had broken up an alleged Islamic State (Isis) terrorist ring and arrested more than 400 suspects while 37 people were killed during clashes.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said that six “terrorists” had been killed, while the death toll included security forces and civilians killed during the crackdown on a cluster of Isis cells.
The ministry said it had detained 431 suspects over the “past few weeks,” 190 of whom were believed to have been involved in May’s suicide bombings of Shi’ite mosques which killed dozens of people.
Those attacks, including one which killed 22 people in the village of al-Quadeeh, were seen as an attempt to stir up sectarian strife between different branch of Islam.
It also blamed the suspects for the November shooting and killing of eight worshippers in the eastern Saudi village of al-Ahsa and for another attack in late May when a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up in the parking lot of a Shi’ite mosque, killing four.
Meanwhile in Iraq, authorities in Diyala province sacked the chief of police and three other officers in Khan Beni Saad yesterday after an Isis car bomb in a crowded marketplace killed 115 people on Friday night. Two other officers were being investigated.
Isis captured a number of towns in the province last year, which have since been retaken by government forces and Kurdish militias. However, clashes with Isis militants continue.
n In Syria, reports have emerged that Isis had used chemical weapons against Kurdish militias in the north of the country and neighbouring Iraq three times last month.
A report by two British-based organisations — arms proliferation monitor Conflict Armament Research and NGO Sahan Research — concluded that Isis used chemical artillery shells of their own making to attack Iraqi peshmerga forces and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units.
The projectiles used in Syria released a chemical consciousness and temporary localised paralysis, while those in Iraq caused headaches, nausea and light burns to the skin.
Saudi Arabia has been supplying arms to anti-government rebels in Syria since 2012.