BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s foreign minister on Monday criticized neighboring Jordan, which recently stepped up air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, and said his country does not need outside help in battling IS militants.
Walid al-Moallem also told reporters that Damascus will not accept Jordanian or other foreign ground troops crossing into Syria to fight the Islamic State group.
There has been no mention of any international troops offering to go into Syria to fight IS. Jordan has, however, vowed to retaliate harshly for the slaying of one of its pilots, who was burned alive by the Islamic State group militants last week.
“We will not allow anyone to violate our national sovereignty and we do not need any ground troops to fight Daesh,” al-Moallem said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
“The Syrian Arab government is fully capable of fighting Daesh valiantly and we don’t need any other troops,” he added. Al-Moallem spoke at a joint press conference with Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei in the Syrian capital.
Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led coalition fighting IS in Syria. The Syrian government describes the airstrikes campaign as illegitimate because it has not been coordinated with the Syrian government.
Syrian government forces are fighting IS militants on the ground but have lost about a third of the country to the extremist group.
Government troops are also battling opposition fighters from an array of rebel groups fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Al-Moallem said Syria offered to coordinate with the Jordanian government in fighting terrorism, but received no response.
He accused Jordan of allowing “terrorists” — a government term for all opposition fighters seeking to topple Assad — to cross into Syria after training them in camps in Jordan overseen by the United States. The CIA has said it is running a rebel training program in Jordan.
Al-Moallem claimed that Jordan, “which fights the Islamic State group along with the international coalition, doesn’t fight” against Syria’s main al-Qaida branch, called the Nusra Front, along its borders.
The Nusra Front is fighting with Syrian rebel groups in southern Syria, near the border with Jordan.