Solving the Syrian crisis will lead to the withdrawal of Iran’s forces and its “terrorist militias,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said Thursday.
Al-Jubeir was speaking at a donors conference on Syria in Brussels, which raised $7 billion in pledges to help civilians.
His comments come as Iran’s militay and proxy forces in Syria are expected to face greater scrutiny as Bashar Al-Assad’s victory in the war becomes more certain.
Saudi Arabia along with Arab countries and their Western allies have called for Iran to remove its forces from the country as the war comes to an end.
The Iranian militias, along with Russian air power, were crucial to the Syrian president gaining the upper hand in the eight-year conflict, which started after he brutally cracked down on Arab Spring protests.
Iran’s involvement in the war came as part of a broader policy of intervening in conflicts in the region to extend Iranian influence.
Both Jordan and Israel have expressed deep concern over the presence of Iranian militias near their Syrian borders. Israel has increasingly targeted the militias’ operations in Syria with airstrikes.
At the meeting, Al-Jubeir also said there is consensus on beginning the political process in Syria after the formation of a constitutional committee.
The UN said it hopes to convene the committee as soon as possible in a key step towards ending the fighting.
Al-Jubeir said there needed to be a “safe and dignified” return for Syrian refugees who had fled the conflict.
The war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced about half of Syria’s pre-war 22 million population.
While in Brussels, Al-Jubeir met the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri and the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi, Saudi Press Agency Reported.
He also met the UK’s Envoy to Syria Martin Longden, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and the US Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey.