Syria reaches out to West to combat Islamic State rebels

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Syria reaches out to West to combat Islamic State rebels

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Syria says it is ready to cooperate in international efforts to combat Islamic State on its territory.

Damascus reached out to the West as video uploaded on social media purported to show the aftermath of heavy aerial bombing by Syrian forces of the IS stronghold of Raqqa in the north.

In nearby Tabqa, the extremist group has just scored another success – seizing a key airbase from the government.

Although the battle is said to have claimed hundreds of lives on both sides, IS has been celebrating its prize, reportedly displaying the severed heads of conquered Syrian soldiers.

It is the group’s beheading of US journalist James Foley that has raised questions about whether Washington could cooperate with Damascus against the al Qaeda offshoot.

“We promote cooperation and coordination with everyone,’ Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told a news conference, adding that this included the US and Britain.

“The objective is to prevent any aggression against Syria,” he said.

But he added that air raids mounted without his country’s approval would be viewed as hostile acts.

Having also seized swathes of land in Iraq, IS has declared a cross-border Islamic Caliphate.

The US has now signalled it is considering extending its battle against the group over the Iraqi border, into Syria, whose government forces it came close to bombing last year.