Amid renewed IS gains in Syria, the country’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Thursday that his country supports the recently-proposed Russian initiative on forming a regional alliance to battle the militant Islamist group.
The Syrian minister made the remarks during his meeting with the visiting UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, during which the minister said his government supports the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin on creating a regional alliance to battle the menace of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
Last month, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s support of the Syrian government and said that Syria must unite with neighboring countries in order to combat ISIL, said a Syrian news agency Sana report.
Putin has expressed his country’s readiness to facilitate dialogue between countries in the region, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia to eke out a regional anti-terror coalition.
Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are staunch backers of the rebel groups fighting against President Assad.
Moscow has generally encouraged Persian Gulf countries to step up and do more on their own to promote regional security, particularly in Syria, but such talk has largely remained just talk.
It’s unclear whether this case will be different but for Russia to propose such a coalition that group Syria and Saudi Arabia together indicates bolder plans.
Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister al-Moallem on Thursday stressed that his country still considers countering terrorism as the top priority in the path for ending the Syrian conflict.
The top Syrian diplomat renewed his government’s support for the UN envoy’s efforts to find a political solution to Syria.
Earlier on Wednesday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad commented on the Russian initiative, saying his country is ready to ally with any country for countering terrorism, questioning, however, the willingness of the countries, which are accused of supporting the radical groups in Syria like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, to join such an alliance.
“When the world defeats terrorism in Syria, it will be a service for all the countries of the world who will find themselves one day in a direct confrontation with terrorism,” Mekdad noted.
Mekdad also claimed that toppling President Bashar al-Assad is no longer a priority for the West.
“There are a lot of contacts with the Syrian leadership and there is a clear admission by the countries who led the war against Syria that they have been mistaken and that they have to shoulder their responsibilities in this domain,” he said.
He added that “many of the European countries have sent letters to Syria and Syria is making precise and responsible dialogues.”
The four-and-a-half-year conflict in Syria is estimated to have killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.
Contrary to Mekdad’s claims, Washington is still backing rebels seeking to oust Assad.
TBP and Agencies