Saudi jets to fly missions in Syria from Turkish base
Saudi Arabia is to deploy military jets and personnel to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base in the south of the country, Ankara said. The base is already used by the US Air Force for their sorties in Syria.
The deployment is part of the US-led effort to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
"At every coalition meeting, we have always emphasized the need for an extensive result-oriented strategy in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group,” he said, referring to IS by an Arabic-language abbreviation.
Cavusoglu spoke to the Yeni Şafak newspaper after addressing a security conference in Munich, Germany, where the Syrian crisis was one of the top issues on the agenda.
"If we have such a strategy, then Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch a ground operation,” he added, fueling concerns that a foreign troop invasion may soon further complicate the already turbulent situation in the war-torn country.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE voiced their readiness to contribute troops for a ground operation in Syria on the condition that the US would lead the intervention. Damascus and its key regional ally, Iran, warned that such a foreign force would face strong resistance.
Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s claims that taking out Assad is a necessary prerequisite for defeating IS are “hypocritical” and are “complete nonsense," political commentator Marwa Osman told RT. She added that “the Syrian army… led by President Bashar Assad is the only force on the ground… fighting ISIS.”
Osman said that the potential invasion would be “catastrophic for the Syrian public” and “a major mistake for Turkey and for Saudi Arabia” as it would be “a fight that will not end until the bloodshed [comes].”
She also brought the Saudi Arabia’s resolve to fight IS into question, saying that it was Saudi Arabia that “is spreading Wahhabism” and adding, “ISIS came within the actual ideology of Saudi Arabia.”
The US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have shared goals in Syria, as all three want the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to be toppled by rebel forces. On other issues they differ. For example, the US supports Kurdish forces in Syria who scored significant military victories against IS, but Turkey considers them terrorists and is targeting them with airstrikes.
Russia, which supports the government of Bashar Assad, seeing it as the only regional force capable of defeating IS on the ground, has warned against a ground intervention, which, Moscow believes, would only serve to prolong the war in Syria.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev called on his Western counterparts "not to threaten a ground operation" in Syria, stressing that Moscow is doing its utmost to pave the way for a lasting peace in the war-torn country.
Russia and other leading world powers have brought Damascus and a number of rebel groups to negotiations and leveraged them into agreeing to a ceasefire. The agreement, however, remains shaky, as neither side trusts the other, and the unity of the rebel delegation remains questionable. The terrorist groups IS and Al Nusra Front are not part of the talks.