WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein – Riyadh is scheduled to host Syria’s primary political opposition factions on December 8, including 20 members of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition. The meeting comes ahead of a January 1 deadline set last month by 20 regional powers in Vienna for talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups.
"What are we going to tell the Syrian people? We are bringing an opposition coming directly from Saudi Arabia," Ribal al-Assad said. "We got the instruments of democracy now that they took new democratic courses."
On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry provided satellite images of oil trucks massing at the Turkish-Syrian border as evidence of illegal oil smuggling from Syria into Turkey. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of direct involvement in an illicit oil trade carried out by the Islamic State jihadist group (known as Daesh in the Arab world), outlawed in Russia.
"It is going from bad to worse," Ribal al-Assad observed.
Saudi Arabia is among the world’s top state executioners and is routinely criticized by human rights groups for beheadings and inhumane executions. The kingdom is part of a 60-member coalition led by the United States carrying out airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq, without a UN Security Council mandate or permission from the Syrian authorities.