Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has called for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, cautioning against the deployment of ground troops as “a dangerous escalation”.
Abadi’s comments seem to be aimed at Sunni Arab countries that have said they were prepared to enter the fray.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday his country would be willing to commit special forces to the fight, as Syrian troops, backed by Russian airstrikes, press a major offensive around the city of Aleppo.
The Aleppo campaign has reversed opposition gains on the ground and encircled rebels, which Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states have backed against President Bashar al-Assad.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said on Sunday it was also willing to supply ground troops to help support and train an international military coalition against Islamic State in Syria provided such efforts were led by the United States.
However, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned that Saudi or other foreign ground troops entering Syria would “return home in wooden coffins“.
“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 said.
“I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins.”
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”.
Although the Syrian regime firmly warned against any foreign ground “aggression”, Assad’s longstanding ally Russia has been bombing Syria since last year to bolster regime fighters.
Syrian opposition groups have accused Moscow of mainly targeting moderate rebels fighting the Assad regime as well as inflicting civilian casualties, a view shared by Western governments.