Last updated: 12 September, 2014

Syria must be in anti-jihadist coalition, says Assad aide

Syria must be part of the coalition against jihadists because the country is a key victim of “terrorism”, an adviser to President Bashar al-Assad said on Friday.

“Terrorism didn’t start in Syria today, it started four years ago” when the uprising against Assad began, Buthaina Shaaban was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.

“So it is crucial that its victim, which has been damaged by this scourge, be a key part of the fight against terrorism,” she said.

Her comments came as the United States assembles a coalition to tackle the Islamic State jihadist group, which is operating in Syria and Iraq.

The coalition pointedly does not include Syria, and Washington has said it plans air strikes on Syrian territory but it will not work with the government in Damascus.

Other Assad allies, including Russia, China and Iran, have also been left out of the coalition, to Syria’s chagrin.

All countries that adopted a UN Security Council resolution against the Islamic State “must be part of the fight against terrorism”, Shaaban said.

She also criticised a speech by US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, saying it had “many shortcomings”.

“No force can fight terrorism… from aircraft. They must be in touch with the victims of terrorism,” she added.

Syria, and ally Russia, have warned that unilateral military action on Syrian territory would violate its sovereignty.