Syria Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned Saturday that Saudi or other foreign ground troops entering Syria would "return home in wooden coffins," and called on rebel groups fighting a massive government offensive in the north to "come to their senses" and lay down their weapons. His comments came after Saudi Arabia said earlier this week it would be willing to send troops as part of a US-led military campaign against ISIS, the AP reports. "Any ground intervention in Syria, without the consent of the Syrian government, will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," the minister told a news conference in Damascus. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."
Al-Moallem's comments capped a week that saw the collapse of UN-led efforts to launch indirect peace talks between the Syrian government and an opposition delegation in Geneva. The talks broke down in large part because of Syrian government offensives, including on the outskirts of Aleppo, the country's largest city and one-time commercial center. The offensive, aimed at encircling rebel strongholds in Aleppo, was backed by intense Russian airstrikes and sent tens of thousands of area residents fleeing toward a closed Turkish border. Al-Moallem said the government advances signaled that the five-year-old Syria war is nearing its end, although he added that there's no telling how long "those who conspire" against Syria will continue to do so.