Syria 'OK' with US airstrikes

Syria's foreign minister said on Monday that his government is satisfied with the US-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State group, adding that the airstrikes should be expanded to include all other militant groups in Syria.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 30, 2014, 03:37 AM IST

United Nations: Syria's foreign minister said on Monday that his government is satisfied with the US-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State group, adding that the airstrikes should be expanded to include all other militant groups in Syria.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Walid al-Moallem said the fight against terrorism has aligned Damascus with Western and Arab opponents in fighting the same enemy.

Al-Moallem said the US does not inform Syria of every strike before it happens, "but it's OK."

"We are fighting ISIS, they are fighting ISIS," he said, referring to the group by one of its acronyms.

He spoke as US-led coalition airstrikes targeted towns in northern and eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State group, including one strike that Syrian activists said hit a grain silo and reportedly killed civilians.

Washington and Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week in Syria, going after the group's military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August.

Some of the initial strikes targeted the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, hitting several of its facilities and killing dozens of its fighters. Washington said it was trying to take out an al-Qaida cell known as the Khorasan Group that was actively plotting attacks against Americans and Western interests.

The US-led coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan.

Al-Moallem said he considered the Islamic State group, the Nusra Front and all Islamist groups fighting in Syria to be essentially on the same side and should all be hit.

"Without doubt, because they have the same ideology. They have the same extremist ideology," he said.

Asked whether the strikes should include the loose umbrella rebel group known as the Free Syrian Army, a Western-backed group, he said the group "does not exist" anymore.

Al-Moallem said Syria heard from the United States 24 hours before it launched its initial airstrikes last week.

"Until today, we are satisfied. As long as they are aiming at ISIS locations in Syria and in Iraq, we are satisfied," he said.