According to a number of media outlets including Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Middle East Eye and the New York Times, Saudi Arabia is allegedly willing to deploy ground troops against IS in Syria with US help.
- The Guardian article (04 Feb 2016) – Saudi Arabia offers to send ground troops to Syria to fight Isis:
- Middle East Eye article (05 Feb 2016) – Saudi ready to send ground troops to fight IS in Syria: General
Turkey is also apparently willing to deploy ground troops in Syria to battle IS and this all coming after the intervention of Russian forces that has tipped the balance of the conflict in favour of the Assad government, the Syrian Arab Army and associated ethnic and foreign militias.
The shear quantity of sorties flown by the Russian Air Force appears to have overwhelmed opposition forces both in their defense of areas and attempted assaults on new areas. Notable gains appear to have been made by Assad allied forces and reported both by Syrian media and activists alike, with the most recent being the surge and possible encirclement of Aleppo.
This has also undoubtedly caused many civilian injuries and deaths, those trapped between the two sides or restricted to live in areas in which the front line progresses without any feasible means of escape.
It remains to be seen if a Saudi or Turkish deployment takes place and weather it would be restricted to fighting IS or if it would also seek to help opposition groups it supports, bringing it into direct conflict with Russian, Syrian and Iranian forces. This may be why US backing is sought before committing to such actions.
It also seems possible due to the fact that this action is only now being suggested by Turkey and Saudi Arabia after recent months of Russian attacks, turning the tide of the war in favour of the Assad government. Considering the conflict has persisted for five years, the timing seems a coincidence at the very best.
As the conflict grinds on, the region remaining destabalised with slow, steady escalation month on month, the chances of military conflict between the US and Russia or Saudi Arabia and Iran increases in similar fashion.