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Syria talks to test Iran, Russia's 'intentions,' says Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's FM has said that the Vienna talks will show if Tehran and Moscow are "serious" about a political solution to the Syrian conflict. The statement comes as Russia makes a record number of airstrikes in Syria.

Saudi Arabia said Wednesday that international talks in Vienna will test whether Tehran and Moscow are "serious" about a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

"If they're serious we will know, and if they're not serious we will also know and stop wasting time with them," said Saudi Foreign Minister Abdel al-Jubeir during a joint press conference with his British counterpart.

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Iran joins talks on Syria conflict

"The view of our partners…was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer," al-Jubeir noted.

'Al-Assad will leave'

Iran confirmed early Wednesday that the country had received an invitation and would

attend the Vienna talks,

which will bring together Western countries along with Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran to negotiate a potential solution to the Syrian conflict.

Iran and Russia are key backers of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's regime while the West and Saudi Arabia back a political situation that would

see the Syrian leader step down.

"There has to be certainty that Bashar al-Assad will leave," Al-Jubeir noted during the briefing.

Russia's bombing record

Meanwhile, the Russian defense ministry said on Wednesday that they hit 118 targets during 71 sorties conducted in the previous 24 hours, marking a record number of airstrikes since

Moscow entered the conflict

on September 30.

"The number of sorties has gone up," the defense ministry said in a statement, adding that it was "due to an increase in intelligence data."

The Syrian conflict had erupted in 2011 after al-Assad cracked down on demonstrators protesting the president's rule.

More than 250,000 people have been killed since then. More than half the population has been displaced, including

120,000 Syrians in October,

according to UN figures.

The Syrian army has made advances following Russia's entrance into the conflict

The Syrian army has made advances following Russia's entrance into the conflict

ls/jil (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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