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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid