RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- An Islamic State attack last week at the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border, which killed three Saudi guards, was an attempt to breach a 600-mile wall under construction.
Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile east-west wall, from the western border town of Tureif, on the Saudi-Jordanian border, to Hafal al-Batin, where Saudi Arabia and Kuwait meet, to separate itself from Iraq. The fence-and-ditch construction project includes 40 watchtowers, five layers of fence, sand embankments and radar and camera installations, and is meant to separate Saudi desert territory from that of Iraq, much of which is controlled by IS. It is patrolled by 30,000 troops. The cost of the project has not been revealed.
Among the Islamic State's stated goals is the eventual capture of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, each a Saudi city.
Like the Great Wall of China, built in 220-206 B.C., Saudi Arabia's wall is meant to contain foreign invaders, and a similar, if less costly, barrier in under construction on Saudi Arabia's 1,000-mile southern border with Yemen. Begun in September, the Saudi-Iraq wall was proposed during the 2006 civil war in Iraq, but only now has construction begun.
Four IS members died in the attack last week, two by detonating belts of explosives they carried. Among the Saudi guards killed was Audah al-Balawi, commander of the Border Guard in Saudi Arabia's North Border Region.