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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid