Turkish-Saudi invasion of Syria not on agenda: Turkey's FM
Iran Press TV
Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:9AM
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey and Saudi Arabia have currently no plan for a ground incursion into Syria.
Addressing a press conference in the capital, Ankara, on Monday, Cavusoglu said any ground operation inside Syria would need to involve all countries in the so-called US-led coalition against Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
Cavusoglu's remarks come as Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Sunday that the US-led airstrikes in Syria have been ineffective and a ground intervention was needed in the war-torn Arab country.
The prince said that the kingdom had offered to deploy ground forces to Syria as it believed the US-led airstrikes alone could not defeat the Takfiri group in Syria.
This as Saudi Arabia announced earlier this month that it was ready to send special forces to Syria if the US-led coalition decides to send ground troops. The coalition has been conducting combat sorties against purported positions of Daesh in Syria since September 2014 without a mandate from Damascus or the UN. The airstrikes, which have on many occasions resulted in civilian deaths and damage to Syrian infrastructure, have widely been criticized as inefficient in defeating Daesh.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also followed in Saudi Arabia's footsteps and signaled their preparedness for similar deployments.
The Saudi proposal for ground intervention in Syria, however, received strong criticism from the Syrian government and other states. Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has said that any "ground intervention on Syrian territory without government authorization would amount to an aggression that must be resisted." He has also warned that potential aggressors would return home in a "wooden coffin."
Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, the Turkish foreign minister claimed that Russian airstrikes were the biggest obstacle to achieving a ceasefire in Syria.
Cavusoglu said the Syrian opposition would meet in Riyadh on Tuesday.
The Syrian opposition on Saturday agreed to the 'possibility' of a temporary ceasefire, provided there were guarantee that Damascus's allies, including Russia, would stop their airstrikes, sieges were lifted and aid deliveries were allowed country-wide.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes on the positions of Daesh and other militant groups in Syria since September 30, 2015, upon a request by the Syrian government.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey are widely believed to be among major sponsors of terrorist groups operating against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
According to a new report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people since March 2011.
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