Iran warns Saudi Arabia against sending troops to Syria

Iran warns Saudi Arabia against sending troops to Syria
Deploying ground troops without Damascus' permission would violate international law, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday.
2 min read
17 February, 2016
Zarid said Iran did not have troops in Syria- only 'military advisers' [AFP]
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Saudi Arabia on Tuesday not to deploy troops in Syria, saying a deployment would violate international law.

Speaking in Brussels on an official visit, Zarif, whose country supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was asked about Saudi Arabia's plans to deploy ground forces in Syria to fight the Islamic State group.

"Those who are operating in Syria without the authority of the sovereign government in Syria are violating international law," he told a news conference at the European Parliament.

Earlier this month, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said any Saudi operation would be US-led, but the kingdom would play a significant role.

Iran, which has sent thousands of "military advisers" into Syria, also supports the Damascus regime via the Lebanese group Hizballah and a series of Iraqi Shia militias.

Zarif, who also spoke at the European Parliament, said that Tehran did not have troops in Syria.
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"Iran does not have boots on the ground in Syria... we have military advisers in Syria, as we have them in other places on the invitation" of the government, he said.

UN-brokered Syrian peace talks were suspended at the start of February after Damascus launched an offensive, backed by intense Russian air bombing, against the northern city of Aleppo.

Zarif criticised the role played in those talks by Saudi Arabia, Tehran's number one regional rival.

"People from outside cannot say what should be the outcome of the negotiations," he said.

"The outcome of the negotiations will be determined by the Syrians inside the negotiating room, not in the capitals of the region, particularly, in Riyadh. They will not and cannot make the decision for the people in Syria."

Zarif also took aim at the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen: "If we are talking about military forces, we have to stop the bombardment of Yemen, which is taking place on a daily basis against innocent civilians, killing a lot of people.

"There are no military targets to hit any more in Yemen. We need to end the atrocities and we need to end it now." Nearly half of the 6,100 recorded deaths there have been civilians, according to the United Nations.

Agencies contributed to this report