'No Future For Assad in Syria': Saudi Foreign Minister

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must either step down voluntarily, or face being removed from office by force.

Speaking to journalists at the U.N. general assembly after a meeting with Saudi Arabia's allies, al-Jubeir dismissed Russia's calls for a coalition with Assad as a "non-starter," but said that the choice in which Assad leaves power is up to him.

"There is no future for Assad in Syria," al-Jubeir said, according to AFP. "There are two options for a settlement in Syria. One option is a political process where there would be a transitional council. The other option is a military option, which also would end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power.

"This could be a more lengthy process and a more destructive process but the choice is entirely that of Bashar al-Assad."

His comments come as Russia continues to build up a military presence in the country. According to The Guardian, U.S. officials said on Tuesday that four advanced Russian aircraft had arrived on an airbase in western Syria, meaning that the total number of Russian planes in the country now stands at 30.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used his time at the U.N. general assembly this week to defend the Syrian regime and call for for other global powers to support Assad in order to fight the Islamic State.

However, al-Jubeir dismissed Putin's actions saying, "I think if the Russians were serious about fighting Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS], they could join the existing international coalition.

"But for them to go out and insert forces into Syria... is a big step, and is an indication that their objective may be to prop up the Assad regime more than it is to fight Daesh."

Al-Jubeir also said that Saudi Arabia had not ruled out the possibility of sitting down with Iran to discuss the situation, according to The Washington Post, but said that the country must withdraw from Syria for things to progress: "Iran is part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution."