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Hollande: Assad cannot be a partner in war against terror

French President Francois Hollande said today that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad “cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism, he is the de facto ally of jihadists.”

Speaking during an annual address to French diplomats, Hollande stressed his country’s rejection of “any cooperation with the Assad regime in the fight against terrorism in Syria and Iraq,” and called on the international community to coordinate humanitarian and military efforts to confront the Islamic State (IS).

The French president called for the Syrian opposition forces fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to be armed. “To fight Islamic State, the international community must also arm opposition forces who are fighting it.”

He also stressed his country’s support for the countries in the region that receive Syrian refugees, such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, noting that cooperation with Saudi Arabia will provide the necessary means to help the Lebanese army.

On Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian regime Walid Muallem said Damascus is ready to cooperate with the US and the West in the fight against terrorism. He stressed this was within the remits of “respect for the sovereignty and independence of the country”, adding any work outside of this format would be viewed as “aggression”.

Regarding Libya, Hollande calling on the United Nations to provide “exceptional support” to the Libyan authorities to restore order because of “the danger of the country sliding into chaos”.

He said: “My main concern today is Libya… If we do not do anything internationally, terrorism will spread across the entire region.”

Hollande said: “It is vital that the legitimate parliament, elected by the people last June, forms an inclusive government capable of relaunching the national reconciliation process and to disarm militias. Otherwise it will be chaos.”

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