Assad calls for united Syria-Iraq front

Assad calls for united Syria-Iraq front
2 min read
25 March, 2015
Iraqi FM's visit to Damascus results in call for greater coordination against the Islamic State group. UN warns that the global focus on IS is overshadowing Syria's humanitarian crisis.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari meets with Walid al-Moallem in the Syrian capital [AFP/Getty]

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has urged a united front with Iraq in tackling the Islamic State group after the first visit by a senior Iraqi official to Damascus since 2011.

Assad met Iraq's foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, in Damascus on Tuesday. While the Syrian regime's diplomatic links have deteriorated worldwide, particularly with Gulf states, Damascus has maintained ties with Baghdad.

Jaafari expressed hope that his visit would increase the level of cooperation between Syria and Iraq to "counter the dangers threatening our brotherly nations".

     Coordination between Syria and Iraq reinforces the successes of their people and their armed forces in the face of terrorism
- Bashar al-Assad

In June 2014, Damascus announced its readiness to coordinate with Baghdad in order to face the threat posed by the Islamic State group, which controls large areas of both countries.

Jaafari called on "neighbouring countries to stand with Iraq and Syria" adding that extremism "would reach all the countries if there is no cooperation".

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem also held discussions with Jaafari. Syrian state television said they had "focused on the fight against terrorism and common dangers that threaten our countries".

Assad was quoted on his official Twitter account as saying "consultation and coordination between Syria and Iraq reinforces the successes of their people and their armed forces in the face of terrorism".

Some 220,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began, according to UN estimates, and more than half the country's population has been displaced.

However, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that the people of Syria feel "increasingly abandoned by the world" as global attention focuses on IS militants.

A new UN report found that delivery of aid to millions inside Syria is becoming even more difficult as the extremist group closes down humanitarian efforts and Syria's government puts more obstacles in the way.

The report said 700,000 people in areas controlled by IS went without food assistance in February after the World Food Programme had to halt deliveries.

The areas include parts of Aleppo and the group's de facto capital of Raqqa.

In addition to this, Syria's government began asking for lists of beneficiaries adding that all communication with government ministries should go through the foreign ministry, before aid can be delivered.

The UN says 12 million people in Syria need aid, and nearly four million have fled the country.