United States looks to establish new Arab force in northern Syria


However, skeptics of the plan note that it may be hard to get key Arab nations to participate in the U.S.'s plan, as Egypt is now preoccupied with exterminating ISIS nearby the Sinai Peninsula while Saudi Arabia and the UAE are tangled in Yemen's civil war.

"The Arab League summit harshly condemns the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people", the statement said as quoted by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir during the summit in the city of Dhahran that focused on the situation in Syria after the Western strike.

Nor, he said, would Arab states be eager to send forces to Syria if the USA military didn't agree to keep some troops there.

The Trump administration has asked the Arab Gulf nations to provide troops and financial support to help Syria recover after the USA finishes off the remnants of ISIS.

The White House reiterated Monday that President Donald Trump still wants to see an early exit for USA troops from Syria after French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that American forces may remain longer-term.

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"There are discussions regarding ... what kind of force needs to remain in eastern Syria and where that force would come from, and those discussions are ongoing", Jubeir said.

One U.S. official told Reuters the United States is looking at what forces might be able to follow on in areas of Syria formerly under Daesh control, should the United States leave or reduce its force dramatically, although no decisions have been made to do this.

While some commentators have assumed that Saudi Arabia is fully preoccupied with a three-year-old war in Yemen, Riyadh has suggested it could help counter-terrorism operations in some other theatres of conflict as part of a wider alliance.

Recent comments from Jubeir and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have also pointed to a shift in Saudi Arabia's position on Syria, toward an acceptance that Syrian President Bashar Assad is not going to be ousted from power anytime soon.

Jubeir emphasised that the proposal to send its troops as part of a broader worldwide coalition was "not new".