Syria rejects foreign ground troops to fight ISIS

A young member of Syrian Kurdish People's Defence Units (YPG) patrols Kobane, Syria on Jan 30, 2015, after Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants were pushed out of the city. Syria will not allow foreign ground troops on its territory
A young member of Syrian Kurdish People's Defence Units (YPG) patrols Kobane, Syria on Jan 30, 2015, after Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants were pushed out of the city. Syria will not allow foreign ground troops on its territory to fight ISIS, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Monday, Feb 9, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria will not allow foreign ground troops on its territory to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference in Damascus, Muallem also said Jordan had not responded to a Syrian request to coordinate efforts against ISIS after the group killed a captured Jordanian pilot.

"So far, there is no coordination between Syria and Jordan in the fight against terrorism," Muallem said at the joint news conference with Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei.

"As for press reports about ground troops entering Syria, we say clearly that... we will not permit anyone to violate our national sovereignty by intervening to fight ISIS," Muallem said. "The Syrian Arab army is honourably undertaking this task."

Damascus regularly accuses Jordan of supporting "terrorism" in Syria because of its backing for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, it called on Amman to cooperate in its efforts against "terrorism" in the wake of a video showing the murder of a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS in Syria.

Jordan is a member of the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and its pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh was captured in December when his plane went down over Syria.

More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict since it began in March 2011, and around the half the population has been displaced.

The war has created massive humanitarian needs, but Muallem criticised the international community, saying it was failing to do its part.

"International organisations claim a lack of resources because of donor reluctance to increase their donations," he said.

"The Syrian government contributes more than 70 per cent of the aid" in the country, he said, accusing countries backing the opposition of spending money on weapons rather than aid.

The United States, a regular target of Syrian government ire for its support of the rebels, is the largest donor to many UN agencies working in the country, like the World Food Programme.

Syria's conflict has continued to rage despite several rounds of international efforts at reconciliation.

UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura is expected to hold talks in Damascus on Tuesday about his plan to "freeze" fighting in northern Aleppo province.

Muallem said Damascus would welcome De Mistura, but insisted the government would only countenance a plan to stop the fighting in Aleppo city, not the province as a whole.