RIYADH, Feb 6 : With rebel forces facing the prospect of a crushing defeat by Syria's Russian-backed regime, their allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey may send in limited numbers of ground troops, analysts say.
Riyadh on Thursday left open the possibility of deploying soldiers, saying it would "contribute positively" if the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Syria decides on ground action.
The fate of Saudi-backed Syrian armed opposition groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad is also a major concern for the kingdom.
"I think Saudi Arabia is desperate to do something in Syria," said Andreas Krieg, of the Department of Defence Studies at King's College London.
Krieg said the "moderate" opposition is in danger of being routed if Aleppo falls to the regime, whose forces have closed in on Syria's second city, backed by intense Russian air strikes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the claims "laughable".
But Krieg said Erdogan's policy in Syria has achieved nothing so far.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Russia to implement a ceasefire and end its bombing of Syria.
The UN reports 40,000 newly displaced people have gathered in several border areas of northern Syria.
Following his European trip aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict, Secretary of State Kerry said in Washington that Russia's bombing campaign was killing women and children in large numbers. It "has to stop," he said during a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Another report says, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard said on Saturday Saudi Arabia lacked the courage to go through with a plan to send ground troops to Syria, and warned they would be wiped out if they went in.
Mohammad Ali Jafari's blunt words on the Fars news agency were Iran's first official reaction to a statement from its regional rival Saudi Arabia this week that it was ready to join ground operations in Syria if a US-led military alliance decided to start them.
"(The Saudis) have made such a claim but I don't think they are brave enough to do so ... Even if they send troops, they would be definitely defeated ... it would be suicide," Jafari was quoted as saying. ?AFP, REUTERS, AP