RIYADH — Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir on Sunday said that Russia and the Syrian government air force violated a cessation of hostilities in Syria.
He said Riyadh was discussing the issue with international powers. Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen in Riyadh, Jubeir said that there would be a “plan B” if it became clear that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government and its allies were not serious about the truce.
“I believe that abiding by the truce would be an important indicator of the seriousness to reach a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis that would include setting up a transitional council and the transfer of power from Bashar to this council,” Jubeir said. “There is no place for Bashar in Syria.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the High Negotiating Committee (HNC) said that it will stick to the cessation of hostilities despite what they said were 15 violations by Syrian government forces on Saturday and more breaches on Sunday.
“The decision is to remain quiet, not to do anything, and I believe they will stick to the truce,” Salim Al-Muslat said.
Muslat said the HNC would complain to the United Nations and countries backing the peace process about Russian air strikes around the city of Aleppo, in an area with no fighters from Daesh or Nusra Front groups, excluded from the truce.
He also said there had been an attack by Hezbollah in the town of Zabadan. Syrian forces had used barrel bombs and rockets on Saturday, he said.
Al-Jubeir accused Russia of targeting Syria’s moderate opposition groups. UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura was in contact with the Russians and the Syrian regime on this matter to reach an agreement that would limit or end military operations against the moderate Syrian opposition and focus instead on Daesh (the so called IS) and Al-Nusra, he said. “Things will become clearer in the coming days on whether the regime and Russia are serious or not about the ceasefire,” he said.
In comments about meeting with his Danish counterpart Jensen, Al-Jubeir said: “We talked about the importance of the departure of Al-Assad so that we can defeat and eliminate Daesh. We talked about the ceasefire agreement to be applied in Syria, provided that this agreement shall not be violated and be adhered to by all parties.” Al-Jubeir reiterated the Kingdom’s position that Al-Assad won’t be any role in a future government in Syria, saying that it is nonnegotiable. “The only question is whether he goes out in a peaceful way or through a military solution? He also reaffirmed that the Kingdom is ready to send special forces to Syria if the international coalition against Daesh, led by US, decides to send ground troops to the country.
He said that bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Denmark are distinguished and historical, noting that some 100 Danish companies are doing business in the Kingdom, and these include Henen Larson which has drawn the architectural design of the foreign ministry in Riyadh. “This is an indication of the firmness of relations between the two countries.” He said trade exchanges between the two countries are balanced with a total of 1.5 billion euros annually. Al-Jubeir also spoke about the talks of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman with the visiting Danish Crown Prince Fredric Henrico Andrea.
On his part, the Danish foreign minister said he discussed with Al-Jubeir important security issues in the region, including the latest developments in Syria, Yemen and Iraq and discussed ways of drying out the sources of funding to all kinds of terrorism. Jensen also highlighted the Kingdom’s big role and status in maintaining the region’s stability.