Saudi displays arms, says drone attack sponsored by Iran

Agencies
September 19, 2019

Riyadh, Sept 19: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday displayed remnants of what it described as Iranian drones and cruise missiles used in an attack on Saudi oil facilities, saying they were "undeniable" evidence of Iranian aggression.

A total of 25 drones and missiles were launched at two oil plants in last weekend's strikes, including Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and "Ya Ali" cruise missiles, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said.

"The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran," he told a news conference. "The evidence ... that you have seen in front of you, makes this undeniable."

Saudi Arabia has claimed Iranian cruise missiles and drones were used to attack the kingdom's oil industry, showing journalists the remains of the weapons but stopping short of directly accusing Tehran of launching the assault. Iran denies being...

Authorities were still working to determine the exact launch point, Malki said, repeatedly declining to answer reporters questions about whether Iran actually carried out the attack.

Iran has denied any involvement in the assault that initially halved Saudi Arabia's oil production. An adviser to Iran's president tweeted that the press conference proved Saudi Arabia "knows nothing".

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition, has claimed responsibility for the strikes.

On Wednesday, the group gave details of the type of drones it said were used in the Sept. 14 attack and warned that the United Arab Emirates was also in its sights.

Malki reiterated that the attack could not have come from Yemen, south of Saudi Arabia, and that the Houthis were "covering up" for Iran.

"The precision impact of the cruise missile indicate advanced capability beyond Iran proxy capacity," he said. "The targeting direction of the site indicate north to south direction of travel."

Eighteen drones and three missiles were launched at Abqaiq, home to the world's largest oil processing facility, but the missiles "fell short", Malki said. He said four missiles targeted Khurais, adding that the Ya Ali missiles have a range of 700 km and have been used by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

HOUTHIS THREATEN UAE

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saria reiterated that the movement had carried out the strike, saying it possessed new drones, powered by normal and jet engines, that could reach targets deep inside the "enemy".

The group had launched "Samad 3", "Qassef 3", jet-powered and other drones, including some carrying bombs, at the Saudi oil plants from three sites, he said in a televised speech.

"Today and for the first time we announce that we have dozens of targets within our range in the UAE, some are in Abu Dhabi and can be attacked at any time," he said.

The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Houthis after they ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.

The UAE in June scaled down its military presence in Yemen as Western allies pressed for an end to the ruinous war and as rising tensions with Iran raised fears of a war in the Gulf.

The Yemen conflict, seen as proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed tens of thousands and pushed millions to the brink of famine in the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation.

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News Network
September 13,2020

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Riyadh, Sept 13: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it would lift totally the restrictions on citizens for leaving and returning to the Kingdom, with opening all land, sea and airports starting from Jan. 1, 2021 in line with the coronavirus-related precautionary measures and protocols.

Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states as well as expatriates and their dependents on valid visa will be allowed to enter the Kingdom effective from Sept. 15.

They include expatriates who have valid exit and reentry visa, work visa, residency permit (iqama) and visit visas provided that they fulfill all the coronavirus related precautionary measures and protocols and a coronavirus negative test result carried out 48 hours before the entry of the Kingdom.

The decision was taken on the basis of the reports presented by the competent authorities regarding the latest developments in combating the pandemic in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting an official source at the Ministry of Interior.

The report highlighted the continuing high rates of the epidemic spread in a number of countries, some of which are currently facing a second wave of the pandemic.

The decision is also out of the government’s keenness on the safety and health of citizens in light of the possibility of not having a safe and effective vaccine to prevent this disease before the end of 2020, the spokesman said.

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News Network
September 23,2020

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Riyadh, Sept 23: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday suspended air travel to and from India, Brazil and Argentina, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the country's Civil Aviation Authority, people with travel history to any of the mentioned countries 14 days prior to their arrival to the Kingdom, have also been barred.

"Suspending travel to and from the following countries (India, Brazil, and Argentina) including any person who has been in any of the mentioned countries in the last (14) days prior to their arrival to the Kingdom," General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement.

However, those who have official government invitations are excluded.

Saudi Arabia to re-allow umrah pilgrimage

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has allowed pilgrims residing inside the country to undertake the umrah pilgrimage beginning on October 4, after a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns, state news agency SPA reported.

Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina undertaken any time of the year, attracting 19 million people last year.

Saudi Arabia had instituted a freeze on umrah in March.

It will now allow 6,000 citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform umrah daily, representing 30% of a revised capacity of 20,000 that takes into account precautionary health measures, SPA added. That will expand to 75% of capacity on October 18.

Beginning November 1, Saudi Arabia will allow visitors from specific countries deemed safe to perform umrah at 100% of the revised capacity, until the end of the pandemic, SPA said.

This year, Saudi Arabia conducted a limited haj, the larger pilgrimage that usually attracts around 3 million people, for a few thousand citizens and residents.

Official data show haj and umrah earn the kingdom about 12 billion USD a year.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia reported 330,798 total cases of coronavirus and 4,542 deaths, as cases in the Gulf region topped 800,000.

Global COVID-19 cases

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 31.5 million, while the deaths have increased to more than 969,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of Wednesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 31,517,087 and the fatalities rose to 969,578, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 6,896,218 and 200,786, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 5,562,663, while the country`s death toll soared to 90,020.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are:

             Brazil (4,591,364)

             Russia (1,111,157)

             Colombia (777,537)

             Peru (768,895)

             Mexico (705,263)

             Spain (682,267)

             South Africa (663,282)

             Argentina (652,174)

             France (507,150)

             Chile (448,523)

             Iran (429,193)

             UK (406,058)

             Bangladesh (352,178)

             Saudi Arabia (330,798)

             Iraq (327,580)

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Agencies
September 15,2020

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The Press Information Bureau (PIB) on Monday denied reports which claimed that another nation-wide lockdown will be imposed from September 25 and cinema halls will be re-opened from October 1.

An order stating that National Disaster Management Authority and Planning Commission have "directed the Prime Minister Office" to impose a strict nationwide lockdown of 46 days from September 25, was doing rounds on social media.

Calling it fake, PIB stated, "Claim: An order purportedly issued by National Disaster Management Authority claims that it has directed the government to re-impose a nationwide lockdown from 25th September. #PIBFactCheck: This order is Fake. @ndmaindia has not issued any such order to re-impose lockdown."

Amid a sea of fake news circulating on the Internet, another media report was allegedly doing rounds about re-opening of cinema halls.

Debunking the fake news, the Bureau clarified, "Claim: Media report has claimed that Home Ministry has ordered reopening of cinema halls across the country from 1st October with the imposition of strict regulations. #PIBFactCheck: This claim is #Fake. No decision has been taken by @HMOIndia on reopening the cinema halls yet."

The Ministry of Home Affairs in its Unlock 4.0 guidelines had directed that cinema halls will remain closed.

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