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Syria could work with West against 'terror'

Syrian FM says Damascus open to co-operation at both regional and international level to combat Islamic State fighters.

Last updated: 25 Aug 2014 13:34
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Muallem said Syria must be involved in co-ordinating any air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria [AP]

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has said that his country is ready to work with the international community to battle against "terrorists" within the framework of a recent UN resolution.

In a news conference in Damascus on Monday, he also warned that Syria must be involved in co-ordinating any air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria, after the US said it was considering extending operations into Syrian territory.

"Syria is ready for co-operation and co-ordination at the regional and international level to fight terrorism and implement UN Security Council resolution 2170," Muallem said.

He confirmed, in response to a question, that the country's willingness to do so would extend to co-operating with the US and the UK.

Muallem added that Syria was willing to participate in such efforts as part of a regional or international coalition, or on the basis of bilateral cooperation.

However, he noted: "We must feel that the co-operation is serious and not double standards.

"Any violation of Syria's sovereignty would be an act of aggression."

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Akkar, in neighbouring Lebanon said the successes of the Islamic State group were pushing old rivals into allies.

The self-declared jihadist Islamic State group has made advances in several parts of Syria, including most recently Raqqa province, where it seized the army's last provincial outpost on Sunday.

The UN Security Council passed a rare unanimous resolution on August 15 intended to weaken armed groups in Iraq and Syria by choking off their funding and stemming the flow of foreign fighters.

The resolution targeted both the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front, which is al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

Syria's government considers not only these two groups, but all those fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad to be "terrorists".

Meanwhile on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Western and Arab governments to overcome their distaste for Assad and engage with him to fight the Islamic State.

"I think Western politicians are already realising the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism," Lavrov said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria and Iraq.

"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 US and the West, as well as many Gulf and Arab states, backed the rebels seeking to oust him

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