Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said the kingdom is in talks with the United States about sending some of their troops into Syria as part of a planned wider coalition consisting of Arab troops.
In his comments on Tuesday, Adel al-Jubeir said the deployment offer was “not new”, adding that Riyadh had previously proposed the idea to former US President Barack Obama.
“We are in discussion with the US, and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis about sending forces into Syria,” al-Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh during a press conference alongside Antonio Guterres, the UN chief.
“We made a proposal to the [previous] Obama administration that if the US were to send forces … then Saudi Arabia would consider along with other countries sending forces as part of this contingent.”
The kingdom announced its readiness to deploy ground troops in 2016 to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Syria.
While Saudi’s air force partook in the aerial campaign aimed at defeating ISIL from the very beginning in 2014, the Gulf kingdom stopped short of a full ground troop deployment.
“There’s great concern among leadership inside the [US] military about the ability of Saudi forces – just look at the war in Yemen that the US has been helping them fight with intelligence and refuelling,” said Culhane.
“There have been humanitarian catastrophes, numbers of schools and hospitals that have been hit, raising big concerns among human rights activists.”
The final question about this planned Arab coalition is whether the troops of the United States will remain in Syria. President Trump has made it clear that he wants to remove the 2000 U.S. troops and keeping them there would probably not be approved by the White House.
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