Syria says it is ready to cooperate with West

Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem said Syria was ready to cooperate with the United States and Britain in the fight against terrorism.

Syria says it is ready to cooperate with West

World Bulletin / News Desk

Syria said on Monday it would cooperate in any international efforts to fight militants from the self-styled 'Islamic State' (IS) in the country, after Washington signalled it was considering extending the battle against the group into Syrian territory.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, whose government has been shunned by the West, presented his country as a vital partner in the war against IS that has seized wide areas of Syria and Iraq.

"Syria, geographically and operationally, is the centre of the international coalition to fight Islamic State," Moualem said in a televised news conference. "States must come to it if they are serious in combating terrorism," he added.

Asked about the prospect of U.S. air strikes against IS inside Syria, Moualem said his government was ready to cooperate with any country fighting militants. But any air raids mounted without Damascus's approval would be viewed as hostile acts. "Anything outside this (cooperation) is considered aggression," he said.

The White House signalled on Friday it was considering taking the fight against IS into Syria after days of air strikes against the group in Iraq and the beheading of an American journalist.

But Washington has also supported a more than three-year-old insurgency against Assad and there has been no sign of any shift in U.S. policy towards the Syrian leader.

"He's part of the problem," Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, said in a broadcast interview last week. Last year Washington came close to bombing Syria after accusing Assad's forces of using chemical weapons.

IS, an offshoot of al Qaeda, has emerged as the strongest group in the battle against Assad. It controls roughly a third of northern and eastern Syria and has since grabbed territory in neighbouring Iraq.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday urged Western and Arab governments to overcome their distaste for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and engage with him to fight the IS.

In comments likely to irritate Washington, Lavrov said the United States had made the same mistake with IS as it had with al Qaeda.

"I think Western politicians are already realising the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism," Lavrov said.

"And they will soon have to choose what is more important: a (Syrian) regime change to satisfy personal antipathies, risking deterioration of the situation beyond any control, or finding pragmatic ways to unite efforts against the common threat."

Russia has been Assad's most prominent international backer in the civil war that broke out in early 2011 and in which the United States and the West, as well as many Gulf and Arab states, backed the rebels seeking to oust him.

Having long been denounced by Washington and others for protecting Assad, Lavrov made clear that Russia now feels vindicated.

"At one time we were accused of supporting Bashar al-Assad and preventing his overthrow.... Now no one is talking about that," he said.

The Americans and Europeans were now starting to acknowledge "the truth they have long recognised in private conversations: namely that for the region and for the interests of the West, the main threat is not the regime of Bashar al-Assad but the possible threat of seizure of power by terrorists in Syria and other states of the region."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ağustos 2014, 16:25