Australia

Key Syria advisor wants West to work with Assad regime

Syria's Bouthaina Shaaban, Presidential Advisor for Political and Information Affairs Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Syria's Bouthaina Shaaban warns Australia about turning Syria into another failed state

A senior advisor to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has urged Australia and the West to work with the regime to bring down the so-called Islamic State (IS).

In an Australian interview, Bouthaina Shaaban said the West should not oppose the president or interfere with Syrian politics.

Ms Shaaban said a US-led coalition had achieved little against IS.

Her comments follow Australia's first air strikes in Syria against IS.

Australia is part of an international military coalition targeting IS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, and has been bombing IS targets in Iraq for about 12 months.

"My message to the Australian government is that there should be a real intention to fighting terrorism," Ms Shaaban told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) in a television interview on Thursday night.

"And the real intention should come through a real coalition and cooperation with Russia, Iran, China, the government of Syria, and all countries and governments who truly are interested in fighting terrorism," she said.

"There is no civil war in Syria ... only one conflict between the Syrian people and the extremist terrorist forces that are being brought to our country from 83 countries in the world," she said.

"I don't think the coalition led by the United States until now has done any real job against ISIS."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The conflict in Syria has killed at least 240,000 people and displaced millions

Western powers and much of the Syrian opposition say it is not conceivable for President Assad to lead a post-war Syria.

He has refused to bow to foreign pressure, saying the Syrian people must decide whether he steps down.

The Australian government this week confirmed it had extended its air strikes from Iraq into Syria against IS targets.

Three air strikes were made by Australia on Monday, destroying an IS armoured personnel carrier and a crude oil collection point, according to the government.

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