Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has said that US-led air strikes on ISIS fighters in his country must be based on a prior agreement with Damascus, and that Syrian troops must be involved on the ground.
Assad’s statements came in an interview with US-based Foreign Affairs magazine published on Monday.
In the interview, Assad said that his country is willing to cooperate with any country that is serious about fighting terrorism, in response to a question about whether Syria can take steps to cooperate with Washington. “With any country that is serious about fighting terrorism, we are ready to make cooperation, if they’re serious.”
Washington supports opposition forces that have been fighting for four years to oust Assad, but the US stance has become more complicated since the emergence of ISIS and other radical militant groups that are militarily superior to the opposition forces allied with Washington.
The US has escalated its air strikes on ISIS after the latter seized control of vast areas in Syria and Iraq last summer.
But the US rejected the idea of an alliance with the Syrian regime, despite the emergence of a common enemy for both Washington and Damascus.
In response to a question regarding what Assad wants from Washington, the beleaguered Syrian premier told Foreign Affairsthat the US should pressure Turkey to stop its support for Al-Qaeda with armaments and money and to start making “legal cooperation with Syria.”
This cooperation, he added, should “start by asking permission from our government to make such attacks. They didn’t, so it’s illegal.”