A Saudi military spokesman has confirmed that Riyadh is prepared to join any US-led ground operations to fight Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, in Syria, if such operations are approved by the coalition.
“The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition (against Islamic State) may agree to carry out in Syria,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told al-Arabiya TV. Asseri is also the spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen.
“If there was a consensus from the leadership of the coalition, the kingdom is willing to participate in these efforts because we believe that aerial operations are not the ideal solution and there must be a twin mix of aerial and ground operations,” Asseri added.
Asked about the report, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the coalition is generally welcome to its partners increasing support in the fight against Daesh, but could not comment specifically on Asseri’s comments.
Saudi Ministry of Defense spokesman: Saudi Arabia ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight Daesh (ISIS) if asked.
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) February 4, 2016
“I would not want to comment specifically on this until we’ve had a chance to review it,” he said.
The US-led coalition has conducted airstrikes against Daesh since September of 2014, but the campaign has done little to stymie the terrorist group’s influence. While President Obama has repeatedly stated that he will not place additional boots on the ground in the Middle East, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has indicated that the Pentagon may be reconsidering that policy.
By comparison, the Russian air campaign that started last September has carried out thousands of sorties and has already proven effective against Daesh. Working at the behest of the legitimate government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian air support and Syrian ground troops are beating back the terrorist group.