Ankara: Turkey, Saudi could launch ground operation in Syria
Ankara says Turkey and Saudi Arabia could launch a ground operation in Syria, adding the kingdom is also sending jets to a Turkish base.
“If there is a strategy, then Turkey and Saudi Arabia could enter into a ground operation,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted Saturday as saying by the Yeni Safak and Haberturk newspapers.
Cavusoglu signaled Ankara had initiated the plan for what he characterized as “the fight against Daesh.”
“It is Turkey that is making the most concrete proposals,” he said.
In December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Riyadh for talks with Saudi King Salman as well as crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef and deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman who is seen as the real ruler.
Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia is also sending planes to the Turkish base of Incirlik which is already being used by the US, France and Britain for air raids inside Syria.
“They (Saudi officials) came, did a reconnaissance of the base. At the moment it is not clear how many planes will come,” Cavusoglu said.
“They said ‘If necessary we can also send troops’. Saudi Arabia is showing great determination in the fight against terror in Syria,” said the Turkish minister.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey both support militants fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On Friday, militants said they have received new supplies of Grad missiles from their foreign supporters in the face of recent losses against the Syrian army.
Asked if Saudi Arabia could send troops to the Turkish border to enter Syria, Cavusoglu said: “This is something that could be desired but there is no plan.”
“Saudi Arabia is sending planes and they said ‘If the necessary time comes for a ground operation then we could send soldiers’,” he added.
His comments came after President Assad told AFP in an exclusive interview published on Friday that he would recapture the whole of Syria and keep “fighting terrorism.”
Last Saturday, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Syria would resist any ground incursion into its territory and send the aggressors home “in coffins.”
“Any ground intervention onto Syrian land without the agreement of the Syrian government is an act of aggression…and we regret that those (who do so) will return to their countries in coffins,” he said.
Iran and Russia have also warned against the deployment of foreign ground forces into Syria, calling it dangerous which could lead to permanent war.
“All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper.