News / Middle East

Syria Urges International Help in Fighting Islamic State

A rebel fighter hands a weapon to his fellow fighter as they move inside a building on the frontline in the Damascus suburb of Harasta, Syria, Aug. 24, 2014.
A rebel fighter hands a weapon to his fellow fighter as they move inside a building on the frontline in the Damascus suburb of Harasta, Syria, Aug. 24, 2014.
Edward Yeranian

Following the fall of a major Syrian government air base to Islamic State militants Sunday, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem is urging the international community to cooperate with his government and demanding that neighboring states stop their alleged support for the jihadist group.

The veteran Syrian foreign minister made his first major appearance since returning to work after a heart operation several months ago. His tone was conciliatory and he told the Damascus press corps that Syria is seeking international cooperation to combat Islamic State militants.

"My government is ready to cooperate and coordinate both regionally and internationally to fight terrorism.....if respect is given to Syrian sovereignty and independence, since the Syrian government 'represents the country's sovereignty,'" said al-Moallem.

Territory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic StateTerritory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic State
x
Territory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic State
Territory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic State

Moallem went on to argue that Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusrat militants are more dangerous than the Taliban or al-Qaida, which the U.S. and NATO have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001. He calls it ironic that the United States has been trying to weaken the Syrian government and its military, while claiming to want to fight terrorism.

Moallem insisted his government would “not accept unilateral U.S.” attacks on Islamic State militants on Syrian soil, but stopped short of saying that Syrian forces would try to shoot down U.S. planes if they enter Syrian air space.  He accused both Qatar and Turkey of supporting the militants.

The Syrian government plea for cooperation came a day after Islamic State militants captured a long besieged air base near the northern provincial capital of Raqqa. Amateur video showed the militants chanting “Allahu Akbar” and shooting their weapons in the air to celebrate.

The group posted gruesome photos on the Internet showing members parading the severed heads of government soldiers on pikes inside the city. Its combatants are reported to be close to two other major government air bases outside of Hama and Deir ez Zor.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, says that the militants' capture of the air base and the West's sudden eagerness to stop Islamic State from spreading farther may help Damascus shed its pariah state image.

"For months and months, the regime in Damascus has been talking about the fact that they were in the forefront in the fight against global terrorism and the latest advances of ISIS in Iraq and their takeover yesterday of Tabqa air base sends yet another message to the international community that 'we are in one trench against our joint enemy.' So, whether they admit it or not, I believe the West will seek to cooperate with the regime in Damascus, even if discreetly," said Khashan.

Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma, however, says he thinks there is “little possibility in Washington of a formal alliance or cooperation of any sort” with the Assad regime.

He says that “most military experts in Washington are calling for something akin to 'mowing the lawn,' as we just witnessed Israel do to Hamas in Gaza.” He believes that U.S. authorities want to "kill and disrupt IS concentrations and leaders in Syria [but] without partnering with [either the rebels or the Syrian regime].........to take over IS-held territory.”   

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs