Reutets/Shawn Nickel/U.S. Air Force
The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has not been weakened since US-led airstrikes began in September, Syria’s foreign minister said, adding that nothing will change until Turkey increases security at its borders.
"All the indications say that [the Islamic State] today, after two months of coalition air strikes, is not weaker," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV on Friday.
US-led airstrikes in Syria against the IS began as part of a larger effort to battle the jihadist group after it had seized vast amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria. Despite carrying out airstrikes in Syria, Washington has refused to work with the country’s government, stating that it wants to see Bashar Assad ousted. Turkey shares the latter stance with the US.
Muallem noted that until Ankara is forced to step up security at its borders, the Islamic State cannot actually be defeated.
"If the Security Council and Washington do not force Turkey to control its borders then all of this action will not eliminate [the Islamic State]," Muallem said, pointing to foreigners who are crossing into Syria from Turkey to join the jihadist fight.
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (AFP Photo)
The Syrian minister added that Turkey has plans for the Syrian territory and said that the Turkish idea to introduce a no-fly zone in northern Syria risks partitioning the country.
Turkey shares a 900 km (560-mile) border with Syria.
Ankara has denied accusations that the Turkish government supports Islamist militants for the purpose of toppling Bashar Assad’s regime.
The foreign minister also discussed recent talks with Russia about relaunching peace negotiations in Syria. "After our discussions with the Russian side, we agreed that the dialogue will be with the national opposition that is not linked to the outside," Muallem said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations reported on Wednesday that the US-led coalition has killed 865 people since the start of the airstrikes in Syria, at least 50 of them civilians.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also warned that the strikes alone can’t defeat the militant Islamist group.