Saudi decision on ground troops in Syria ‘irreversible’

Saudi defence minister meets US counterpart in Brussels to discuss proposal in greater detail

Image Credit: AFP
Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition forces, speaks to the media at the Riyadh airbase in the Saudi capital on April 2, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE
Gulf News

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s military spokesman has said its offer to send ground troops into Syria was an “irreversible decision.”

State television quoted Brigadier General Ahmad Assiri as saying Saudi Arabia wanted the US-led coalition targeting Daesh in Syria and Iraq to agree on Riyadh’s deployment. If agreement is reached, they could be sent within two months, he said on Thursday during a televised press conference.

The statement comes as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman visited Nato headquarters in Brussels to discuss the Syrian civil war. He held a private meeting with US Defence Minister Ash Carter.

A Saudi deployment runs the potentially explosive risk of confrontation between one of the Arab world’s most powerful militaries and forces keeping Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in power, including Iran and its proxy militias.

It also puts pressure on Washington and other Western nations to do more to end the conflict.

Meanwhile,US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have opened talks in Munich trying to reconcile deep differences over a proposed cease-fire for the Syrian civil war.

Russia has proposed a March 1 cease-fire but Washington believes that will only give Moscow and the Syrian government three weeks to crush moderate rebel groups. The US has countered with a demand for an immediate truce.

As they began their meeting at a Munich hotel, Kerry declined to speculate on whether an agreement could be reached. “We’re going to have a serious conversation about all aspects about what’s happening in Syria,” he said. “Obviously, at some point in time, we want to make progress on the issues of humanitarian access and cease-fire. We will talk about all aspects of the conflict.”