Syria says fight against ISIL must include Damascus

Syria says fight against ISIL must include Damascus

Syria says fight against ISIL must include Damascus

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) shakes hands with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem before they start a meeting in Tehran August 5, 2015. Reuters Photo

Syria supports any efforts to combat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if they are coordinated with Damascus but anything else would “be a breach of Syrian sovereignty”, state television quoted the country’s foreign minister as saying on Aug. 5.

Walid al-Moualem made the comments during a visit to top regional ally Tehran to meet with his Iranian counterpart, the TV channel said. 

The United States said earlier this week it had decided to allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. military from any attackers, even if the enemies were the Syrian army and allied fighters.    

The United States said on Aug. 4 that it had indications that Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. military were captured by fighters from al Qaeda’s Syria wing, Nusra Front, in the latest blow to a fledgling program at the center of America’s war strategy. 

The Pentagon said in a statement it was monitoring the situation but had “no further details to provide.” 

A U.S. defense official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said at least five Syrian rebels were believed to have been captured. 

That followed an attack by Nusra Front on July 31 believed to have killed one of the so-called “New Syrian Forces,” in what would be their first battlefield casualty. 

The incidents underscore the extreme vulnerability of the New Syrian Forces, a still tiny group thought to number less than 60 who only deployed to the battlefield in recent weeks. 

Earlier reports depending on local sources said the number of the abducted trained rebel fighters was higher but the U.S. had ruled out the claims. 

When questioned in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 5 on reports that fighters trained by the U.S. and Turkey had been detained by the al-Nusra Front militant group in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the kidnappings showed the lack of ability of a sole train-and-equip program in the field.