Saudi Arabia says military option in Syria still viable
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said a military option in Syria is still on the table and support for opposition fighters fighting to expel President Bashar al-Asaad will continue, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Speaking at a news conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Jubeir also said Riyadh was in contact with various Syrian opposition groups about a potential meeting in the kingdom to unify their position ahead of upcoming peace talks in Vienna.
“The military option is still viable and the support to the Syrian opposition is still continuing,” Jubeir told the news conference.
“If it (the conference) happens, its aim will be to unify the Syrian opposition and help them to come out with one vision so that it can play an active role in the talks to reach a peaceful solution that leads to the removal of Bashar al-Assad,” he added.
International talks were held in Vienna earlier this month in which Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – laid out a plan including formal talks between the government and opposition by Jan. 1.
Division in Syrian opposition ranks is often cited as one of many obstacles facing diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.
The opposition includes the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition, a political body, and a wide array of rebel groups that are not united in a single military structure and do not answer to any of the political factions.
Jubeir said it would not deal with any groups designated on any terrorism lists.