Saudi Arabia says it is ready to join any ground operation the U.S.-led coalition launches against the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group in Syria.
“If there is any willingness in the coalition to go in the ground operation, we will contribute positively in that,” Brigadier General Ahmed al Assiri told Saudi-owned al Arabiya TV.
Brigadier Assiri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition battling Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen, said the Kingdom “is an active member” of the coalition fighting ISIS in Syria, and had carried out more than 190 bombing raids there since 2014.
However, Assiri stressed that the only way to defeat the radical group is to put boots on the ground.
“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,” he added.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday the coalition is supportive of partners contributing more in the fight against ISIS, but added that he had not yet seen the Saudi proposal.
“I would not want to comment specifically on this until we’ve had a chance to review it,” Kirby said.
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