Syria aims to 'flush out all terrorists' in 2015 - PM Wael al-Halqi

Fighters from Suqour al-Sham Brigade, which is part of the Free Syrian Army, carry a wounded member of their brigade during what activists said were clashes with forces of Syria's President Assad, in al-Arbaeen mountain area of western Idlib. --
Fighters from Suqour al-Sham Brigade, which is part of the Free Syrian Army, carry a wounded member of their brigade during what activists said were clashes with forces of Syria's President Assad, in al-Arbaeen mountain area of western Idlib. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's prime minister said on Sunday the country would drive all insurgents out of its territory in 2015 and was prepared to back any attempts to fight global militancy.

Speaking in parliament, Wael al-Halqi said Syria's top aim was to "flush out all terrorists from its land". He said Syria would not allow its enemies “to destroy the land of religions and cradle of civilisations” and praised the army for its efforts.

Syria has repeatedly said it wants to coordinate with other countries to fight armed groups in its country. It describes all anti-government forces in Syria as terrorists, unlike Western countries and their Arab allies who distinguish between the hardline extremists and more mainstream rebel fighters.

Syria’s uprising started in 2011 with anti-government protests and has descended into a civil war pitting a range of armed groups against the military. Hardline groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front have gained ground.

US-led forces started an airstrike campaign against ISIS last year when the militant group captured tracts of land in Iraq and Syria.

President Bashar al-Assad said in a magazine interview published last week that US-led air strikes should be subject to an agreement with Damascus and Syrian troops should be involved on the ground. Washington supports opposition forces fighting for the past four years to topple Assad, but its position has become complicated since ISIS and other hardline groups emerged as the most powerful insurgent factions.

But it has rejected the idea of allying itself with the Syrian government despite them now having a common enemy.