US welcomes Saudi offer to send ground troops to Syria

US Defence Secretary Carter welcomes Saudi Arabia's offer to send ground troops to Syria to join fight against DAESH

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks about the upcoming Defense Department budget, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, during a speech at the Economic Club of Washington in Washington.

United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomed on Thursday Saudi Arabia's offer to send troops to join US-led coalition in Syria fighting against DAESH terrorist group.

"That kind of news is very welcome," Carter told reporters while on a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

A Saudi military spokesman announced on Thursday the kingdom is ready to send ground troops to Syria to participate in fighting against DAESH with the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.

"We are determined to fight and defeat DAESH," Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri told the Associated Press.

The general did not give further information how many troops they are planning to send.

A US-led coalition of regional and western states have been hitting DAESH targets in Syria since September 2014, but the coalition has not yet sent combat troops to fight against the terrorist group.

The announcement came shortly after the UN brokered peace talks between the Assad regime and opposition representatives in Geneva to end the civil war in Syria were suspended until Feb. 25.

"We believe that the air strikes alone are not the perfect solution," the Saudi general said in an interview, Reuters reported.

The Pentagon chief said that he is going to discuss the details of sending ground troops to Syria with the Saudi defence minister in Brussels next week.

Saudi Arabia is also deeply involved in Yemen’s civil war in which the kingdom is supporting Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi government against Iranian-backed Houthi militants.

Saudi Arabia cut all diplomatic relations with Tehran, which is also a close ally of Bashar al Assad in Syria, after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran following the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric alongside 47 people on terror charges.

Expansion to Libya depends on political change

Carter also commented on Libya, another Middle Eastern country embroiled in a civil war, and said that they are watching events in Libya carefully but have not made a decision on the expansion of the coalition's role there.

"The concern there is that Libya not get on a glide slope to the kind of situation that we find elsewhere, where [DAESH], in a politically disrupted environment, seizes a foothold, gathers a piece of territory from which it is able to tyrannize people, and plot operations elsewhere," Carter said.

DAESH carried out attacks on Libya’s oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, benefiting from the power vacuum created by fighting between two rival governments in the country.

Carter said an extension of the coalition's role in Libya depends on political change.

 "The most important objective right now is to help Libyans come together and help put their government back together," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies