Syria rejects foreign ground troops to fight ISIS

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem also said Jordan had not responded to a Syrian request to coordinate efforts against ISIS

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Syria will not allow foreign ground troops on its territory to fight the Islamic State group, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Monday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Speaking at a news conference in Damascus, Muallem also said Jordan had not responded to a Syrian request to coordinate efforts against ISIS after the group killed a captured Jordanian pilot.

“So far, there is no coordination between Syria and Jordan in the fight against terrorism,” Muallem said at the joint news conference with Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei.

“As for press reports about ground troops entering Syria, we say clearly that... we will not permit anyone to violate our national sovereignty by intervening to fight IS,” Muallem said.

“The Syrian Arab army is honourably undertaking this task.”

Damascus regularly accuses Jordan of supporting “terrorism” in Syria because of its backing for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, it called on Amman to cooperate in its efforts against “terrorism” in the wake of a video showing the murder of a Jordanian pilot captured by IS in Syria.

Jordan is a member of the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq, and its pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh was captured in December when his plane went down over Syria.

Air strikes

Meanwhile, at least 15 people were killed and dozens wounded on Monday in government air strikes on an area outside the capital Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

There were no immediate details on the breakdown of those killed in the strikes, which are the latest to hit the town of Douma in the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta.

The opposition bastion, east of Damascus, came under a massive government aerial assault on Thursday after rebels fired more than 120 rockets and mortar rounds into the capital.

The rebel barrage killed 10 people in Damascus, including a child, while the government air strikes and surface-to-surface missiles fired at Eastern Ghouta killed at least 82 people, among them 18 children.

Eastern Ghouta has been under government siege for nearly two years as the army tries to break the rebel hold over the area.

The siege has created medical and food shortages, exacerbating dire humanitarian needs created by regular government bombardment of the area.

More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict since it began in March 2011, and around the half the population has been displaced.

The war has created massive humanitarian needs, but Muallem criticised the international community, saying it was failing to do its part.

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