France dismisses Assad as partner against ISIS
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is not the West’s partner in the fight against terrorism but an ally of Islamic extremists wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq, French President Francois Hollande warned Thursday.
“Assad cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism, he is the de facto ally of jihadists,” he told a Paris gathering of ambassadors from around the world.
Instead, Hollande urged for the arming of opposition to defeat al-Qaeda breakaway of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group.
“France asks the United Nations… to organize exceptional support for Libyan authorities to restore their state,” he added.
Hollande’s statement comes after Britain and Australia were seen as potential candidates as the United States is intensifying its push to build an international campaign against ISIS militants, Reuters reported U.S. officials as saying on Wednesday.
Obama administration officials also said that Washington is recruiting partners for potential joint military action against the al-Qaeda breakaway group ISIS.
“We are working with our partners and asking how they might be able to contribute. There are a range of ways to contribute: humanitarian, military, intelligence, diplomatic,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Meanwhile, Germany said on Wednesday it was in talks with the United States and other international partners about possible military action against ISIS but made clear it would not participate.
It’s unclear how many nations will sign up. Some such as trusted allies Britain and France harbor bitter memories of joining the U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that included troops from 38 nations. The claims of the existence of weapons of mass destruction which spurred the coalition to act were found to be false.
The United States, the officials said, could act alone if necessary against the militants, who have seized a third each of Iraq and Syria, declared open war against the West and want to establish a hub of radicalism in the heart of the Arab world.
Senior White House aides met this week to discuss a strategy for expanding its assault on ISIS, including the possibility of air strikes on the militants’ stronghold in eastern Syria — an escalation that would almost certainly be riskier than the current U.S. campaign in Iraq.
While Iraq’s government welcomed the role of U.S. war planes to attack the militants, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that any strikes conducted without its permission would be considered an act of aggression, potentially plunging any U.S.-led coalition into a broader conflict with Syria.