Syria open to U.S. help against "terrorism"

More than three years into Syria's civil war, the damage is breathtaking to buildings, whole cities and millions of lives.

The Syrian government no longer controls huge swaths of the country.

But that's not necessarily an existential threat, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told CBS News. He said the country isn't disintegrating.

"No, absolutely not," said Mekdad. "There are armed terrorist groups here and there, but the country is still together."

As many as a thousand different opposition groups are fighting to bring down the government of President Bashar Assad. The fact that many of them are Islamic extremists puts Syria and the West fighting a common enemy in the region - that is, in the eyes of the Syrian government.

As many as a thousand different opposition groups are fighting to bring down the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
As many as a thousand different opposition groups are fighting to bring down the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The United Nations estimates that 90 percent of the territory around the northern city of Aleppo - once the economic heartland of a thriving economy - is now in the hands of armed opposition groups.

"This is something which can vary from one day to another," argues Mekdad.

Asked whether he can envision some informal alliance of the U.S. and Europe with Syria's government to fight the most notorious group - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS - Mekdad says he and his government "welcome any effort from whatever country to combat terrorism in this region and outside the region."

Even, he said, the United States.


  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."

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