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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saudi Prince Bandar going to great lengths to topple Assad: Report

Foreign-backed militants fighting Syrian government forces gather along a road in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor. (File photo)

Foreign-backed militants fighting Syrian government forces gather along a road in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor. 
(File photo)

Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud has been striving to rally Western support to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

An article published on The Wall Street Journal Sunday said the prince has been making efforts behind the scenes to realize Riyadh’s top foreign policy goal of ousting Assad. 

“Prince Bandar has been jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Elysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime, according to Arab, American and European officials,” the article said. 

It said the prince has meanwhile commissioned Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir with persuading US Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama to expand Washington’s role in Syria. 

US officials say Prince Bandar and Jubeir have told Washington that they do not necessarily expect a victory by the Syrian militants anytime soon, but they want to gradually change the battlefield in their favor. 

The Saudi plan is to steadily strengthen moderate groups of militants in Syria with the goal of someday seeing them in control in Damascus, it noted. 

On Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged "firm and serious" action against Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack which killed hundreds of people near Damascus on August 21, accusing the Assad government of having "lost its Arab identity." 

Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011. The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the outbreak of the violence.

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