Saudi Arabia plans to supply the Syrian opposition with anti-aircraft missiles to counter President Bashar al-Assad's air force, German news weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday according to AFP.
The article, citing a classified report received by the German foreign intelligence service and the German government last week, said Riyadh was looking at sending European-made Mistral-class MANPADS, or man-portable air-defence systems.
Der Spiegel noted the shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles can target low-flying aircraft including helicopters and had given mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan a decisive edge against Soviet troops in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia is a key supporter of the Syrian rebels and has long advocated providing them with better weaponry.
King Abdullah was back in Saudi Arabia on Saturday after flying home early from a convalescence stay in Morocco to follow events, as the Syrian conflict intensifies, state media reported.
In relevant development, Saudi King Abdullah congratulated on Sunday Iran’s newly elected President Hassan Rowhani on his victory according to Alarabiya.
The king sent a telegraph wishing the Iranian president good health and happiness, and the people of Iran ‘steady progress and prosperity.’
The Saudi king also praised recent statements by Rowhani on enhancing Saudi-Iranian ties.
Earlier, Rowhani told pan-Arab Asharq Al Awsat newspaper that he was interested in joint cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic republic for both the security and the stability of the region.
“Iran and Saudi Arabia can play a positive role in dealing with major regional issues such as security in the Gulf,” Rowhani stressed.
Rowhani headed Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in the early 2000s under reformist president Mohammad Khatami.
He has been an outspoken critic of outgoing President Ahmadinejad, accusing him of needlessly antagonizing the international community.
Rowhani scored a landslide victory over his conservative rivals without the need of a second round run-off, Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said on state television on Saturday.
Najjar said 72 percent of the 50 million eligible voters had turned out to vote, and that Rowhani had secured 18.6 million votes, just over the 50.71 percent of the vote needed to avoid a run-off.