Riyadh ready to send troops to Syria under US coverage

The goal of the Saudis is to participate in an international force with the aim of "stabilizing" the country. For the Saudi Foreign Minister, the proposal is not "a new fact". Trump would like to create an Arab force to replace the US military on the ground. Today the inspectors of the OCCW are ready to visit Douma.


Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has relaunched the country's military engagement in Syria, saying that Riyadh is ready to send its troops on the ground. The goal, explains the kingdom’s head of the diplomacy, is to take part in a "US-led" international mission with the aim of "stabilizing" the Arab country theater for seven years of a bloody conflict.

"We have been discussing this with the United States," al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis [in 2011] - he added - we are evaluating the opportunity to send forces".

The comment follows rumors that emerged from the American administration, according to which President Donald Trump is trying to assemble an Arab force to replace US military on the ground. The contingent would include troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The objective of this mission, explain White House sources, would be to "stabilize the north-east of the country" after the defeat of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis).

In these hours, the new national security advisor, the anti-Iranian hawk John Bolton, would have contacted the Egyptian chief of staff Abbas Kamal, in an attempt to convince Cairo to take part in the military initiative.

However, the Saudi Foreign Minister wanted to clarify that the proposal to send troops to Syria in the context of an international coalition is not a "new fact". Riyadh had already advanced to the Obama administration its willingness to send Saudi soldiers and forces to Syria. And the Saudi hereditary prince and number two Mohammed bin Salman, had expressed the Kingdom's readiness to participate in a military intervention in Syria.

The rumors of a possible Saudi military presence in Syria come at a time of strong tension in Syria, where the proxy war between powers arises as a result of the alleged chemical weapons attack by the government army in Douma, in eastern Ghouta. The attack, denied by Russians and Syrians, provoked the joint response of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, with a series of raids last week that triggered an escalation of tension. Today the inspectors of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – who have been in Damascus for days - should access the theater area of ​​the attack, to check for traces that confirm (or deny) the use of chlorine or nerve gas.

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