The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said that they will join any coalition ground operation against Islamic State (Isis) in Syria, despite officials warning that any foreign troops arriving will be "sent home in coffins". A mooted US-led ground operation against IS has won the support of Saudi Arabia in recent days who said they would be prepared to send troops to war-torn Syria.
The Saudis believe that an international ground operation against Daesh (Isis) is the most effective way of destroying the extremist threat that lies to the north. But the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad remain resistant to foreign troops as they advance in Aleppo.
Defiant Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem even told the international community that foreign boots-on-the-ground would be seen as an aggression against the regime. His strong rhetoric came as the Russian military claimed that Turkish soldiers were spotted amassing at the Syrian border.
The UAE is a long-time ally of the Kingdom and a member of a Saudi-led Gulf coalition that has targeted Houthi rebels in Yemen. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said at a media briefing in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi that they have always been supportive of an anti-IS ground operation and were undeterred by the Foreign Minister's shock tactics.
"This has been our position throughout," he said according to Al-Arabiya. "We have been frustrated at the slow pace of confronting Daesh.
"We are not talking about thousands of troops but we are talking about troops on the ground that will lead the way that will support and I think our position remains the same and we will have to see how this progresses," he added.
Gargash added "US leadership on this" would be a prerequisite for the UAE and US State Department spokesman John Kirby has said he would be supportive of further support from members of the coalition. US Senator John McCain has called for 100,000 soldiers, with forces mostly from Muslim Sunni states, to fight IS in Syria.
"Any ground intervention in Syria, without the consent of the Syrian government, will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," al-Moallem told a news conference in Damascus on 6 February according to AP. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."