WASHINGTON – The Saudis are telling Russia they no longer seek to topple the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, but insist they should continue arming and training their surrogates in the Free Syrian Army as opposition to ISIS – even though FSA commanders have signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS.
Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal reportedly gave the news to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch defender of the Assad regime.
However, Middle East sources regard the Saudi comments to the Russian president as a deflection of the kingdom’s true intentions of ultimately seeing the Assad government replaced with a Sunni-led government and is using an offer of training U.S.-backed Islamic fighters as a “ruse.”
“The Saudi offer is a ruse to train fighters to oust Assad and ultimately for the Saudis to reassert their influence again not only in Syria but Lebanon to halt the spread of Iran’s Shiite influence in the region,” one Lebanese political source told WND. “The offer for the U.S. and West to train and equip jihadi fighters to fight ISIS hides the real intent of the Saudis.”
The Obama administration is to ask Congress for a half billion dollars to facilitate the training, with the Saudis taking the lead on the expenditures.
However, as WND previously reported, FSA fighters increasingly are linking up with ISIS. The FSA not only has seen many of its fighters defect to ISIS but it also turned over American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom were subsequently beheaded.
Read more at WND