Assad regime disapproves of air strikes without its consent

Assad’s government believes that political talks contain no value and air strikes on armed militant groups in Syria won't bring positive outcome without government’s consent

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem surrounded by reporters at the United Nations building in Manhattan, New York, September 30, 2015.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Moualem on Friday cast doubt on the importance of political negotiations and argued that aerial bombardment of armed militant groups in Syria is no use if this is not coordinated with President Bashar Assad’s government, referring to the one year long US-led campaign of air strikes on ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

"Terrorism cannot be fought only from the air, and all of the previous operations to combat it have only served its spread and outbreak," Moualem said in a statement during the UN General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders.

"Air strikes are useless unless they are conducted in cooperation with the Syrian army, the only force in Syria that is combating terrorism," he added.

During the meeting, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Syrian and Ukrainian crises, with both sides claiming legitimacy for their actions in Syria but disagreeing over the role of President Assad, a Russian ally.

The Istanbul-based Syrian National Council (SNC) rejected on Friday any role for Assad in a transitional government following a softening of the West’s stance towards the Syrian President.

British Prime Minister David Cameron stated last week that Assad could take part in a transitional government but should not be part of Syria's future in the long run.

Those remarks followed a statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry in which he said that Assad needed to relinquish his post, but not necessarily "on day one."

Any such future transition must "prevent the reproduction of the current regime with a new face, and must not give any role in a transitional process or in the long term" to Assad or those around him, the SNC said in a statement.

On Friday Russia bombed Syria for the third day in a row, hitting civilians residing in opposition-controlled areas instead of militants in areas captured by ISIS as formerly planned.

The recent Russian air strikes have drawn an increasingly angry response from the West.

Following Russia's intervention, which fighting groups have said will only prolong the war, the Syrian National Coalition reiterated its position that Assad must be excluded from any political process.

However, Moualem welcomed Russia's decision this week to carry out air strikes in Syria following a request by the Assad government in "support of the Syrian efforts in combating terrorism."

Moscow has stated that it is backing the Syrian army at its weak points.

Moualem stated that it would be impossible to end the crisis in Syria by only relying on political negotiations.

"No one should think that, after all these sacrifices and steadfastness for more than four years, they could obtain through politics what they could not win in the field, or that they will achieve at the negotiating table what they failed to achieve on the ground," he said.

However, he reported that the government was willing to participate in a chain of meetings set up by UN mediator Staffan de Mistura which will aim at constructing the framework of an agreement on a future political transition for Syria.

"Syria agrees to participate in the four brainstorming committees of experts proposed by the special envoy Staffan de Mistura," Moualem said, emphasising that the outcome of the working groups will be nonbinding.

TRTWorld and agencies