Saudi and UAE sending troops to Syria is 'sovereign decision': Egypt FM

Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Feb 2016

The decision to send ground troops to Syria has no relation to the Saudi-led Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, Shoukry says

Egypt's FM Sameh Shoukry (Reuters)

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said on Tuesday that the announcement of military ground operations in Syria by Saudi Arabia and the UAE is a "sovereign decision" not related to the Islamic military coalition.

In a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, Shoukry said that the autonomous decision by the Gulf states is one that was undertaken as part of their own foreign policy initiatives.

The Egyptian minister also discussed the future of the joint Islamic military force that was first agreed on last May to fight terrorism, saying that although no meetings were conducted in the frame of the Arab league and the Arab Army chiefs of staffs, the discussions were still ongoing between the Arab countries for a shared vision for the coalition.

He added that as soon as the protocol regarding the coalition's military objectives is ready, it will be immediately announced.

Kuwait’s Al-Sabah said that both Kuwait and Egypt believe in a political solution in the Syrian civil conflict; asserting that they will strive to support and strengthen such a consensus.

Cairo has never called on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to leave office, and has repeatedly restated its belief that a political solution is necessary to end the five-year conflict.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said it would be willing to send troops as part of a US-led military campaign against the IS militant group, which currently controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.

US defense secretary Ash Carter said he expected both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to send special operations forces to Syria to help local opposition fighters in their drive to retake the city of Raqqa, the IS group's de facto capital in Syria.

Syria has warned that foreign ground troops entering Syria would "return home in wooden coffins."

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