Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the fight against the DAESH terrorist group must include ground operations.
Answering reporters' questions on his flight from Germany where he attended the Syria Support Group's cease-fire meeting, Çavuşoğlu said: "We, 65 countries, need to clear out the DAESH terror organization through air and ground operations instead of hiding behind terror organizations," referring to the U.S.'s support of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG).
"If there is a strategy then Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch a ground operation," Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying by the Yeni Şafak and Habertürk dailies.
Çavuşoğlu also said that there has not been a decision or a strategy made yet on any ground operations in Syria. He reportedly said: "From the beginning, we have been telling the [U.S.-led] coalition that airstrikes will be not be enough to be successful in the fight against DAESH, and ground operations are needed. This is not a new idea, but there has not been a decision or a strategy made on any ground operations."
Riyadh and Ankara are both opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who this week warned that any ground intervention would be resisted. Senior Saudi defense official, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, told Al-Arabiya television late on Saturday that there was consensus within the anti-DAESH coalition on "the need for ground operations" and that military experts would meet shortly to decide "the role to be played by each country."
Saudi Arabia and Turkey have long supported Syria's opposition and see Assad's ouster as essential to end Syria's five-year civil war.
Both countries have also been outraged by Russia's military intervention in Syria, which Moscow says is targeting "terrorists" but critics say aims to prop up the Assad regime.
Russia, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since September, has also warned against any ground intervention. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Sunday that Russia's efforts to support Assad would not succeed. "[Assad] has sought the help of Russia, which will fail to save him," Jubeir asserted at a press conference in Riyadh.
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