Syrian rebels supporter Qatar said it is considering a direct military intervention in Syria following Russia’s airstrikes in support of dictator Bashar al-Assad but added that it still prefers a political solution to the civil war.
The foreign minister of Qatar made that revelation in a CNN interview Wednesday.
His comments drew a swift response from the Assad regime with a senior Syrian official warning that Damascus would reply harshly to such “direct aggression,” Reuters reports.
“Anything that protects the Syrian people and Syria from partition, we will not spare any effort to carry it out with our Saudi and Turkish brothers, no matter what this is,” replied Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah when CNN asked if Qatar supported the Saudi position that does not rule out a military option in Syria in response to Russia’s intervention.
“If a military intervention will protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the regime, we will do it,” he added, the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) reports.
Attiyah’s comments were also carried on CNN’s Arabic website.
“If Qatar carries out its threat to militarily intervene in Syria, then we will consider this a direct aggression… Our response will be very harsh,” said Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, according to Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television.
The Qatari foreign minister noted that his country preferred to solve Syrian crisis through direct political dialogue.
“We do not fear any confrontation, and thus we will call for dialogue from a position of strength because we believe in peace and the shortest path to peace is through direct dialogue,” he reportedly said.
Qatar has been a major supporter of anti-Assad rebels in Syria’s civil war, providing arms and financial and political backing, notes Reuters.
Although it is a small country, Qatar is a wealthy gas exporter that played an essential role in supporting Islamist opposition groups during the Arab Spring uprisings in Libya and Syria back in 2011.
U.S. Secretary of Sate John Kerry is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday to discuss the Syrian civil war alongside their counterparts from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Moscow announced on Wednesday, Al Arabiya NEWS reports.
“Russia’s foreign ministry made the announcement after a phone call between Lavrov and Kerry and following the surprise visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Moscow on Tuesday,” reveals the report.