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AFP

Syria criticizes exclusion
from anti-jihadist talks

DAMASCUS - A senior Syrian official on Tuesday criticized the international community for excluding Damascus from recent talks on building a coalition to tackle the Islamic State group.

 

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad, quoted by state news agency SANA, expressed "astonishment" that Syria was not invited to the talks, which were attended by countries that Damascus claims fund "terrorism.”

 

"The fight against terrorism is not a public relations exercise. All the countries that suffer from terrorism and fight against it should be involved," SANA quoted him as saying.

 

"The absence of Syria, which has been fighting terrorism for at least three years, at the Jeddah and Paris meetings creates many doubts" about the objectives of the fight, he added.

 

The comments come after two rounds of talks between US representatives and their allies in Saudi Arabia and then France intended to build a coalition to fight the Islamic State group.

 

The jihadist group has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and carried out brutal abuses of civilians.

 

But Syria and ally Iran have not been involved in the discussions, and Washington has made clear it has no plans to coordinate with Damascus in its fight against IS.

 

Syria's government has branded all those seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad as "terrorists" and says it must be consulted on military action taken on its territory.

 

It also accuses key US allies including Qatar and Saudi Arabia of funding "terrorism" because of their support for the armed opposition in Syria.