Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defense announced it is prepared to deploy ground forces in Syria to fight Daesh (ISIS), if the U.S.-led international coalition also deploys ground forces.
Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri (photo), Advisor in the Office of the Minister of Defense, made this announcement during an interview with Al Arabiya. Since 2014, Saudi Arabia has been among the coalition of nations of Operation Inherent Resolve conducting airstrikes against Daesh in Syria.
Saudi Arabia has been an international leader in finding a solution in Syria, through financial, military and diplomatic means. Saudi Arabia has provided more than $700 million in aid to the Syrian people. Today, Saudi Arabia pledged an additional $100 million in funding at the international donors' conference in London, the statement said.
Saudi Arabia has long condemned terrorism in all its forms and maintains a policy of strong international cooperation to fight terrorism around the world. In December 2015, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a multi-national Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh.
For its part, Bahrain said it is also ready to commit ground troops to Syria, a day after its larger neighbor and close ally Saudi Arabia announced a similar pledge.
Bahraini Ambassador to Britain Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Khalifa said in a statement that Bahrain would commit troops to operate “in concert with the Saudis” under what he called the international coalition against terrorism.
He added that the United Arab Emirates, a fellow member of the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), was also ready to commit troops, echoing an assertion made late last year by UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon welcomed Saudi Arabia’s pledge to commit ground forces to fight ISIS in Syria, should the U.S.-led coalition ever send in combat troops.
“We welcome the announcement by Saudi Arabia that they are looking into ways to enhance their counter-ISIL efforts,” US Central Command spokesman Pat Ryder said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.
“There will be continued discussions with the Saudis and our other partners on the best ways we can continue to intensify coalition efforts.”
Ashton Carter, U.S. Secretary of Defense is meeting with defense officials from Saudi Arabia and at least two dozen other coalition members this week in Brussels, where he is expected to outline the next steps in the anti-ISIS campaign.