Saudi Arabia to reinforce moderate Syrian rebels

Published October 26th, 2015 - 12:02 GMT

This week, US Secretary of State John Kerry and King Salman met in the Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss each state's role in the Syrian crisis. During the meeting, the Saudi king agreed to "intensify support" for moderate Syrian groups involved in the conflict, Reuters reports.

The extent of the support is unclear; however, the Saudi monarchy relationship with the Syrian government has deteriorated after calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad shortly after the conflict began in 2011. The Saudi king previously stated that the defeat of Daesh (ISIS) is contingent upon Assad's removal from power. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is part of an international coalition with the US and several other Middle Eastern countries to defeat Daesh in the region. 

A few weeks ago, the US airdropped weapons to Syrian rebels including ammunition and grenades. Syrian rebel groups have long been calling for greater support in fighting the Assad regime, as the regime's allies include international powers such as Russia, Iran, and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

The conflict represents one of many proxy wars in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The two regional powers have been entrenched in a hegemonic struggle, propping up regimes and supporting local groups in the hopes of gaining greater influence in the region.

The Saudi government has recently been facing criticisms for its involvement in the civil war in Yemen that broke out earlier this year. Last week, reports surfaced from Yemeni media alleging that Saudi airstrikes have targetted residential areas in the Sa’ada Province of Yemen. 

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