Saudi Arabia is sending troops and aircraft to NATO-member Turkey’s Incirlik air base ahead of the intervention against ISIS in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated to the Yeni Şafak newspaper on Saturday.
“Saudi Arabia declared its determination against Daesh (the Arabic term for ISIS) by saying that they were ready to send both jets and troops,” he said.
“At every coalition meeting we have always emphasized the need for an extensive result-oriented strategy in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group”.
If such a strategy exists, Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch an operation from the land, Cavusoglu added.
He confirmed that planes and military personnel were being sent to Incirlik, in Adana near the Syrian border, with no definite numbers yet confirmed.
“Saudi Arabia is now sending planes to Turkey, to Incirlik. They came and carried out inspections at the base,” Cavusoglu told the newspaper.
Saudi officials have not yet commented on Cavusoglu’s remarks.
In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has resumed its participation in air strikes against ISIS and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday welcomed its commitment to expand its role.
Carter expected the Saudis alongside the United Arab Emirates to send commandos to help recapture ISIS’ Syrian stronghold and de-facto capital of Raqqa.
Nonetheless, U.S. President Barack Obama has excluded the possibility of sending U.S. ground troops to Syria. But Saudi Arabia this month offered ground forces to fight ISIS and Cavusoglu said Turkey and the Saudis would support a coalition ground operation.
The Saudi-Turkish step comes days after major powers agreed in Munich on Friday to temporarily halt combat in Syria, but Russia pressed on with bombing in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad, who vowed to continue fighting until he regained full control of the country.