• Qatar’s foreign minister has said his country is willing to use its military in Syria
  • Syria has responded saying it would consider intervention as a “direct aggression”
  • Russia launched air strikes in Syria last month targeting enemies of the Syrian regime

Qatar has suggested it could use its military to intervene directly in Syria’s civil war as a response to Russian air strikes in the country, raising concerns that the Syrian civil war could see further escalation.

Speaking to US-based news agency CNN, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiya said: “If a military intervention will protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the regime, we will do it.”

Al-Attiyah said he would prefer to solve the political crisis through dialogue if possible.

“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 said.

The threat of direct military action in Syria drew a swift response from Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who was was quoted by Lebanon-based news agency Al-Mayadeen as saying: “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.”

Russia launched air strikes in Syria last month, targeting the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) as well as other militant groups that are battling the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Assad visited Moscow on 22 October in his first overseas trip since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

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