On Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesperson refrained from rejecting claims that the U.S. seeks to establish a military force, consisting of troops from several Arab counties, to be deployed in northeastern parts of Syria.
A Pentagon Spokesperson Eric Pahon was quoted by Anadolu Agency (AA) as saying that U.S. President Donald Trump had previously said Washington "would demand that partners and allies provide more support in Syria," responding to a question on claims about a new Arab force in Syria.
The U.S. plans to establish a new military force, consisting of forces from Arab countries, to be deployed in northeastern Syria to contribute to stabilizing the region, a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said on Monday. The new initiative is reportedly part of the White House's demand from several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), "to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria;" and the U.S. now demanding Arab states support U.S. plans in northern Syria in military terms.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir reaffirmed on Tuesday the kingdom's willingness to deploy troops in Syria as part of U.S.-led efforts to stabilize the conflict-torn country.
"We are in discussions with the U.S. and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis (in 2011) about sending forces into Syria," Jubeir said at a press conference in Riyadh with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The WSJ report follows weekend strikes by the U.S., Britain and France against Syria's Bashar al-Assad's regime that hit targets they said were linked to a state chemical weapons program.
Jubeir emphasized that the proposal to send its troops as part of a broader international coalition was "not new." "We made a proposal to the (previous U.S.) Obama administration that if the US were to send forces ... then Saudi Arabia would consider along with other countries sending forces as part of this contingent," he said.
Before the weekend's Western strikes, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had indicated that the kingdom would back an international military action in Syria.
The new initiative is expected to establish a new force in the absence of U.S. troops to counter the growing influence of Russia and Iran, the main supporters of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.
Pahon did not make a comment on Saudi Arabia's role in Syria, but praised the Kingdom's participation in the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition in Syria.
According to official data, there are about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. The White House has recently said that the plan is to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, as it is becoming a costly to keep them in the war-torn country.
The U.S. works with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the People's Protection Units (YPG), a force that Washington has military supported in Syria in the fight against Daesh. The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, a group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Turkey and the EU. The U.S.'s military support for the terrorist group in Syria has severed Washington's ties with Ankara, which backs the moderate opposition group, Free Syrian Army (FSA), in Syria. The YPG is organically linked with the PKK, Ankara says, arguing that any military support provided to the group is ultimately used against Turkey.
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