Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has announced that the regime in Riyadh would be ready to send troops into Syria as part of a potential wider deployment led by the United States.
Jubeir said on Tuesday that Riyadh had always been supportive of any US-led military action in Syria since a conflict began in the country in early 2011.
“We are in discussions with the US and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis about sending forces into Syria,” he said while at a news conference in Riyadh with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The comments by the top Saudi diplomat come days after the United States led an air campaign against certain Syrian military facilities in response to a suspected chemical attack near the Syrian capital earlier this month.
Riyadh has backed militants opposed to the Syrian government since the very beginning of the war, while it has encouraged any Western-led action that could undermine Syria’s fight against terror.
Jubeir reiterated that the proposal for sending troops into Syria was not a new one, saying that Saudis had sought to have boots on the ground in Syria during the time of former US President Barack Obama.
“We made a proposal to the 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,” said Jubeir.
Jubeir’s renewed call for a deployment in Syria comes as certain countries in the Middle East and Europe are trying to convince US President Donald Trump to revise his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria. Those countries fear a US pull-out may help Syria win the fight against terrorism and clear the entire country of foreign-sponsored militants.
The heightened tensions over the conflict in Syria came against the backdrop of an accusation made by Western governments that Syria and its ally Russia had been involved in the suspected chemical attack in Douma on April 7, which they said killed dozens.
Syria and Russia have rejected the entire story as a fabrication, while condemning US-led attacks on military facilities in Damascus and Homs on Saturday as a violation of international law.