US talking to Syria’s Islamist rebels

US talking to Syria’s Islamist rebels

The United States has reached out to Islamist militias among the Syrian opposition as it seeks to reach a political solution to the civil war, a U.S. official confirmed Dec. 4.

But there have been no contacts with groups such as al-Nusra that are blacklisted by Washington as terror organizations, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf stressed.

“We engage with a broad cross-section of Syrian people and political and military leaders in the opposition, including a variety of Islamist groups,” she told reporters. “We do not engage with terrorists, with groups that are designated as terrorist organizations.” Harf spoke after The Wall Street Journal reported that a senior U.S. envoy had been sent to meet with key militias following the emergence of a new alliance in Syria last month.

FSA, regime not to cooperate

General Salim Idris, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), refuted the reports claiming that the Syrian rebels were considering joining forces with regime troops to fight al-Qaida. “The army of the regime is traitor and there can not be any kind of cooperation with them,” he said. Idris has issued a written statement through the main Syrian opposition body, Syrian National Coalition (SNC), regarding the remarks claimed to be made by himself on a possible cooperation with the regime’s army.

He claimed he had not given any interviews on this issue.

İpek Yezdani from Hürriyet’s Istanbul office contributed to this report.