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Qatar downplays reports military on 'high alert' as a diplomatic row with Gulf neighbours continues Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Qatar downplays reports military on 'high alert' as a diplomatic row with Gulf neighbours continues

The Saudi-led alliance has cut diplomatic ties with fellow GCC member Qatar [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2017

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Doha has denied rumours that its military has been put on high alert on the Saudi border following a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.

Qatar has played down media reports that its military has been on "high alert" along its land border with Saudi Arabia since a diplomatic crisis has erupted between Doha and its Gulf neighbours.

Qatar's ministry of defence said in a statement that there has been no upgrade in the level of military preparations, according to Al Jazeera on Thursday .

Saudi Arabia and allies - including the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - cut diplomatic ties with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar on Monday over allegations that Doha supports extremism.

Qatar strongly denies the allegations.

"The ministry of defence is always on alert to protect the borders of the state of Qatar from a 360-degree approach - land, sea and air - 24-hours a day, every day of the year," the statement read.

CNN Arabic on Wednesday reported - citing an unnamed US official - that the Qatari military has been put on "highest alert" along the southern border with Saudi Arabia since the outbreak of the ongoing spat.

The source claimed that Doha has taken 16 tanks out of warehouses and sent a warning message that Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini vessels entering Qatari waters would "come under fire".

The Saudi-led alliance has imposed an economic blockade on Qatar with Riyadh closing Doha's only land border.

It has also given Qatari citizens 14 days to leave and closed their airspace to all Qatari flights.

On Wednesday, Turkey's parliament pushed through legislation that allows its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar.

There are currently 150 Turkish troops stationed at the base but Turkish officials have said in the past that up to 3,000 military personnel would eventually be stationed at the facility.

Ankara, which has been a close ally of Doha, has said it was ready to help defuse the diplomatic spat between Qatar and Arab nations in what has become the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in several years.

Qatar is already home to the biggest air base in the Middle East, al-Udeid, where some 10,000 military personnel are stationed, and is the forward headquarters of US Central Command.

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