US denies 'coordinating' Syria air strikes with Assad
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
CİHAN PhotoThe United States on Feb. 10 denied that it was coordinating air strikes either directly or indirectly with the Syrian regime against Islamic militants and renewed calls for President Bashar al-Assad to go.
In an interview with the BBC, Assad said Damascus was being informed about the US-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Assad said the messages were conveyed through third parties, including neighboring Iraq, where Washington and Western allies are also carrying out strikes against ISIL.
"We're not communicating or coordinating our military operations with the Assad regime. We're not doing it directly. We're not doing it indirectly," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
Before the strikes were launched in Syria in September, Washington did "inform the Syrian regime directly of our intent to take action through our ambassador to the United Nations," recalled State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki, repeating information given at the time.
"We did not request the regime's permission. We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government," she said.
"We did not provide advance notifications to the Syrians at a military level, nor give any indication of our timing on specific targets."
Washington had also warned Damascus "not to engage US aircraft."
The US position remains that "Assad has lost all legitimacy and must go .. There cannot be a stable inclusive Syria under Assad's leadership," Psaki added.
She also insisted that his interview with the BBC had to be "taken with a grain of salt."
In the same interview, "he denied the use of barrel bombs, chlorine and also the indiscriminate killing of his own people," Psaki said.