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Saudi official says kingdom ready to send ground troops to Syria

Reuters , AP , Thursday 4 Feb 2016
Saudi spokesman
File photo of Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, Saudi Military spokesman. (Photo: AP)

A Saudi military spokesman says the kingdom is ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State (ISIS) group provided coalition leaders agree during an upcoming meeting in Brussels.

Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri told The Associated Press on Thursday that Saudi Arabia has taken part in coalition airstrikes against ISIS since the US-led campaign began in September 2014, but would now provide ground troops.

The United States is scheduled to convene a meeting of defense ministers from countries fighting ISIS in Brussels this month.

"We are determined to fight and defeat Daesh," Asiri said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. He didn't elaborate on how many troops the kingdom would send. Saudi Arabia is deeply involved in Yemen's civil war, where it is fighting Iranian-backed Shia rebels.

Asked about the report at a briefing, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said the coalition is generally supportive of having partners contribute more in the fight against ISIS but he had not seen the reported Saudi proposal. "I would not want to comment specifically on this until we've had a chance to review it," he said.

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