Riyadh has been a fierce opponent of Assad, but Jubeir said any participating Saudi force would make the battle against ISIS the priority
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Feb. 19, 2016) — Any participation by Saudi forces in a US-led ground operation in Syria would focus on fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) group not President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told AFP on Thursday.
“Saudi Arabia has expressed its readiness to send special forces to Syria as part of the coalition, with the goal of eliminating Daesh. This is the mission and the responsibility,” Adel al-Jubeir said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Riyadh has been a fierce opponent of Assad, but Jubeir said any participating Saudi force would make the battle against ISIS the priority.
“For now the objective of any ground forces or special forces would be to fight Daesh on the ground in order to seize territory from them,” he said.
“If they enter Syria, these forces will work in the framework of the international coalition to fight Daesh, there will be no unilateral operations,” he said.
Asked if the mission could be expanded to include operations against Assad’s forces, Jubeir said: “This would be something the international coalition would have to make a decision on.”
Saudi Arabia backs rebel forces fighting Assad and insists he must leave office for the country’s conflict to be resolved.