Foreign troops in Syria would return home 'in coffins,' foreign minister warns

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned Saturday that Saudi or other foreign ground troops entering Syria would "return home in wooden coffins," and called on rebel groups fighting a massive government offensive in the north to "come to their senses" and lay down their weapons.

See Full Article

His comments came after Saudi Arabia said earlier this week it would be willing to send troops as part of a U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State extremists. The group controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Al-Moallem said conventional wisdom and logic would suggest the entry of Saudi troops is unlikely, but that "with the crazy Saudi leadership nothing is far-fetched."

"Any ground intervention in Syria, without the consent of the Syrian government, will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," he told a news conference in Damascus. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."

He repeated the line three times during the one-hour press conference, saying it applies to anyone who attacks Syria with ground troops. Russia's Defence Ministry on Thursday said it had "reasonable grounds" to suspect Turkey is making intensive preparations for a military invasion of Syria.

Al-Moallem's comments capped a week that saw the collapse of U.N.-led efforts to launch indirect peace talks between the Syrian government and an opposition delegation in Geneva.

The talks broke down in large part because of Syrian government offensives, including on the outskirts of Aleppo, the country's largest city and one-time commercial centre. The offensive, aimed at encircling rebel strongholds in Aleppo, was backed by intense Russian airstrikes and sent tens of thousands of area residents fleeing toward a closed Turkish border.

Al-Moallem said the government advances signalled that the five-year-old Syria war is nearing its end, although he said there's no telling how long "those who conspire" against Syria will continue to do so.

"I can say, from the achievements for our armed forces ... that we are now on track to end the conflict," he said. "Like it or not, our battlefield achievements indicate that we are headed toward the end of the crisis."

Al-Moallem urged armed opposition groups fighting the government offensive in the area to lay down their weapons. "It is time to return to your senses and come back to the nation's fold, because even your supporters and sponsors have abandoned you," he said.

Opposition representatives have said they cannot be expected to negotiate in Geneva at a time when the Syrian government and its allies, including Russia, are escalating attacks on rebel strongholds.

Al-Moallem dismissed the representatives of the Saudi-backed opposition in Geneva, suggesting they followed orders from Saudi Arabia and were "not real Syrians."

He alleged the opposition never intended to negotiate seriously. "They did not come to have dialogue, they did not have such orders," he said.

Al-Moallem said the Syrian government was ready to have dialogue with Syrians, but without preconditions.

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Karin Laub in Beirut contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Extension-cord mess cited in fire that killed N.B. mother, three sons

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. GEORGE, N.B. -- Fire investigators say a mess of extension cords, power bars and the failure of an electrical component were the likely cause of a fire that killed a New Brunswick woman and her three adult sons in April. Source
  • Scalise discharged from hospital, beginning rehabilitation

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise -- who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month -- has been discharged from a Washington hospital. MedStar Washington Hospital Center says the six-term Louisiana Republican was released from the hospital on Tuesday and is beginning "intensive inpatient rehabilitation. Source
  • Residential building collapses in Nigeria, killing at least 8

    World News CBC News
    A four-storey residential building collapsed in Nigeria's largest city killing at least eight people, including a child, emergency officials and an Associated Press photographer in Lagos said Wednesday. Authorities said at least 15 people had been rescued from the rubble of the building that collapsed Tuesday afternoon. Source
  • Jailbreak how-to: Inmates chronicle escape on cellphone mocking investigators

    World News Toronto Sun
    SANTA ANA, Calif. — Video shot with a contraband cellphone shows the escape of three inmates from a maximum-security wing of a California jail last year, as well as scenes from their days on the run. Los Angeles news station KNBC-TV, which aired parts of the footage Tuesday, says it was provided by an attorney connected to the case, and not by prosecutors. Source
  • Ohio executes Ronald Phillips, man convicted of rape and murder of three-year-old

    World News Toronto Sun
    LUCASVILLE, Ohio — Ohio is preparing to put a condemned child killer to death in the state’s first execution in more than three years. Forty-three-year-old Ronald Phillips is scheduled to die Wednesday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Source
  • Judge set to decide if Charlie Gard can die at home after appeal for U.S. treatment stalled [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — A British judge is considering where Charlie Gard, a baby with a rare genetic disease, will spend the last days of his life. A High Court judge is expected to decide at a London hearing Wednesday whether his parents’ wish to take Charlie home to die will be granted. Source
  • Canadian boy, 7, stranded in Cuba after falling ill on vacation

    Canada News CBC News
    A Canadian mother and her sick son are desperate to get back home after an illness forced Cole Antinello, 7, off an airplane tarmac in Cuba, leaving them stuck in hospital and searching for answers. Source
  • Judge set to decide on where Charlie Gard's spends last days

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- A British judge is considering where Charlie Gard, a baby with a rare genetic disease, will spend the last days of his life. A High Court judge is expected to decide at a London hearing Wednesday whether his parents' wish to take Charlie home to die will be granted. Source
  • Man accused of raping and impregnating 11-year-old girl says she may have raped him

    World News Toronto Sun
    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Prosecutors say a 38-year-old Massachusetts man charged with impregnating an 11-year-old girl denies raping the girl, and instead suggested that she might have become pregnant by having sex with him as he slept. The Republican newspaper reports that Justin Armstrong, of Springfield, was held on $50,000 bail after pleading not guilty Monday to forcible child rape. Source
  • Parents of critically ill baby request own hospice care team

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The parents of critically ill infant Charlie Gard conceded Wednesday that he will die in a hospice and not at home as they had previously wished. Connie Yates, the mother of the baby at the centre of an international medical and legal battle, returned to London's High Court for a hearing where a judge was expected to rule on where Charlie would spend the last days of his life. Source