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

  • N.C. restaurant hit with US$308,000 water bill for 13 days of service

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two brothers launching a new restaurant in North Carolina found themselves deluged by a $308,000 water bill. But now their water worries are over. The Charlotte Observer reported that Faraz and Faisal Syed received the enormous bill in March, about two months before the Lazeez Mediterranean Grill had opened in that city. Source
  • Calgary man who contracted flesh eating disease overseas now recovering at home

    Canada News CTV News
    *Warning: Graphic images shown in the video may be disturbing to some A Calgary man who contracted flesh-eating disease while on vacation has returned home and is recovering after a harrowing medical ordeal overseas. Source
  • British Airways flights out of London grounded by computer outage

    World News CBC News
    British Airways cancelled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend. The airline said it was suffering a "major IT systems failure" around the world. Source
  • Conservatives pick new federal leader today

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — The final votes will be cast today for a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Some 259,000 people are eligible to vote, deciding between 13 candidates running the gamut from former cabinet ministers to one who has never held public office. Source
  • Global computer outage grounds British Airways Heathrow, Gatwick flights

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — British Airways cancelled all flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend. The airline said it was suffering a “major IT systems failure” around the world. Source
  • More arrests in Manchester bombing as U.K. lowers threat level

    World News Toronto Sun
    MANCHESTER, England — Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from “critical” to “severe,” as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. More arrests are expected. Prime Minister Theresa May said “a significant amount of police activity” and several arrests had led to the level being lowered. Source
  • ISIS claims responsibility for deadly attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt

    World News Toronto Sun
    MINYA, Egypt — The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack on a bus carrying Christians on their way to a remote desert monastery south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, which killed 29. Egypt responded to Friday’s attack by launching a series of airstrikes that targeted what it said were militant bases in eastern Libya in which the assailants were trained. Source
  • 100 dead, 99 missing in Sri Lankan mudslides [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    AGALAWATTE, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s military said Saturday that it is doubtful any missing people will be found alive two days after torrents of mud triggered by heavy rain covered homes in southern and western parts of the country, killing 100 people and leaving 99 others missing. Source
  • Police on scene as London's Old Vic evacuated during performance

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- The Latest on the concert bombing in Manchester, England (all times local): 3:15 p.m. Hundreds of people have been evacuated London's Old Vic Theatre during a performance and police say they are on the scene. Source
  • Nothing suspicious found after London's Old Vic evacuated during performance

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- The Latest on the concert bombing in Manchester, England (all times local): 5:10 p.m. Police say nothing suspicious has been found at London's Old Vic Theatre after a security alert prompted the evacuation of cast and audience in the middle of a performance. Source