Friday June 02, 2023

S Arabia providing commandos for Syria: US

By our correspondents
February 13, 2016

BRUSSELS: US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday he expected Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to provide special operations forces to help Syrian opposition fighters battling Islamic State, including to retake the city of Raqqa.

"We’re going to try to give opportunities and power to particularly Arabs in Syria who want to re-seize their territory back from ISIL, especially Raqqa," Carter said after defense talks in Brussels.

Carter, who met with officials from UAE on Friday, said it had also promised to resume participating in the US-led air campaign against Islamic State. He received a similar assurance from Saudi Arabia on Thursday. "We’re not looking to substitute for them (the Syrian rebels), any more than we’re looking to substitute for the Iraqi forces. But we are looking to enable them strongly and help them organise themselves," Carter said.

He said the United Arab Emirates could also play an important role in Iraq, helping train local forces, including Kurdish peshmerga fighters. Such a plan would meet stiff resistance from Nato member Turkey. On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan upbraided the United States for its support of Kurdish fighters.