Syria crisis: Egypt says sending troops to country 'a possibility'

Officials from several countries are discussing the idea, Egypt's foreign minister says

Egyptian Army soldiers are seen in the troubled northern part of the Sinai peninsula during a launch of a major assault against militants, in Al Arish, Egypt, in this undated handout picture made available by the Ministry of Defence March 4, 2018. Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Sending Arab troops to Syria is a possibility that the officials of several countries are discussing, Egypt's foreign minister was quoted as saying in a state newspaper on Friday.

"In regards to the situation in Syria, Shoukry said that the idea of replacing forces with another that may be Arab is a possibility", Al-Ahram quoted Sameh Shoukry as saying.

"This proposition is not only being discussed by the media, but also during discussions and deliberations amongst officials of states to look into how these ideas could contribute to stabilising Syria", Al-Ahram quoted Mr Shoukry as saying.

He did not name the countries in question. But an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official told Reuters that Shoukry's comments did not pertain to Egypt.

"The principles that govern sending Egyptian forces outside the country are known to everybody. That won't happen unless it was in line with constitutional mechanisms, and rules and regulations that have been affirmed more than once, such as cases related to United Nations peacekeeping operations", said Ahmed Abu Zeid in a statement.

Saudi Arabia said last month it was open to sending troops to Syria under wider coalition.

Syria has been wracked by seven years of civil war that has left more than 400,000 people dead, displaced millions and caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

US President Donald Trump has signified his intention to withdraw the US presence in the country, in spite of a new round of strikes against alleged Syrian chemical weapons production sites earlier this month.

The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force that could replace the US contingent on the ground in Syria, which is mostly focused in the northeast of the country. John Bolton, Mr Trump's national security adviser, reportedly called Abbas Kamel, Egypt's acting intelligence chief, to sound out the possibility of Egypt contributing to such an effort.