The United States and Saudi Arabia have dramatically responded to Russian air-strikes in support of the Assad regime by agreeing to boost their own military and diplomatic support for the Syrian rebels.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, the King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh for talks over the weekend. Despite Russian leaders saying they had extracted promises of fresh elections from President Bashar al-Assad, Mr Kerry and the Saudi ruler presented a common front in agreeing to hit the regime harder.
“They pledged to continue and intensify support to the moderate Syrian opposition while the political track is being pursued,” the State Department later said in a statement.
The statement was the first public acknowledgement of a surge in the number of anti-tank missiles that have been passed to specially-vetted rebel groups from the Free Syrian Army since Russian jets joined Syria’s skies at the end of September.
The rebels’ usage of American-made TOW missiles has increased over 800 per cent, slowing regime offensives across the country.
Such a statement would fit previous interventions by the Obama administration, in which commitments to increase supplies to the rebels follow several weeks after the supplies have started to arrive. However, the statement also represents a new determination to take on not only the regime but President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
American and Saudi joint support for rebels, including Islamists, in Afghanistan three decades ago forced Russian troops out and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, insisted after the meeting that Mr Assad should have no role in Syria’s future, adding there had been some progress in international talks on resolving the conflict.
Yet there are few signs that the armed opposition and most of its international backers are ready to come to the negotiating table, a place they have been before without success.
Read more: telegraph.co.uk