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Assad government has infiltrated Islamic State, says Syria diplomat

Secretary of the Syrian Parliament Khaled Abboud alluded in an interview earlier this week that the government has been redirecting IS attacks
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus (AFP)

President Assad’s government has infiltrated the Islamic State group and is fully aware of the intricacies behind terrorist attacks taking place in Turkey, a Syrian diplomat has said.

“The Syrian security establishment and the Syrian intelligence services have infiltrated these networks [Islamic State and other militant groups in Syria],” said Secretary of the Syrian Parliament Khaled Abboud, in an interview on Syrian state TV channel earlier this week.

"They have penetrated them and taken control of key structures within," added the Syrian MP.
Abboud said that infiltration of the militant group's networks was why Damascus has been spared militant attacks which are rampant across the rest of the country.

“Where is Daesh (IS) and the Nusrah Front and all these jihadist revolutionary factions?" he said. "They are on the outskirts of Damascus, [aren’t they]."

“Then why have there been no bombings in Damascus? But there have been attacks on Turkish cities [instead]," he said, hinting at the link between the infiltration of IS and the absence of attacks on the capital, which is the government’s stronghold.

Need help with terrorism? Ask Syria

Abboud also said that other countries struggling to fight terrorism should seek the advice and the cooperation of the Assad government to overcome militant attacks.

“Consequently, in my opinion, what is going on in Turkey [terrorist attacks] … no one can stop that without cooperating with the Syrian security establishment,” said Abboud.

Turkey has witnessed a series of militant attacks since 2015. The latest was claimed by IS and targeted a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve, killing 39 people and injuring dozens of others.

'There is a difference between knowing about these operations and actually running them' - Syrian MP Khaled Abboud

Abboud further said that the Syrian government is fully-aware of the terrorist attacks unfolding in Turkey and Jordan.

“You may be surprised (to know) ... that the Syrian state is aware of strategic aspects of what is going on in Jordan and Turkey.”

“There is a difference between knowing about these operations and actually running them.”

Terrorism still rampant

In a series of contradictory statements, Abboud claimed that despite the Syrian government not needing any foreign assistance in its fight against rebel groups, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia all joined the fight to defend Assad.

“This force of three powers combined [Syrian army, Hezbollah militias and Iran] could not defeat terrorism. So, who intervened (next)? Russia did,” explained Abboud.

According to the Syrian diplomat however, despite the involvement of all these powers, terrorism is still rampant in Syria.

“[But] did we manage to overcome terrorism?” he asked rhetorically. “Until this very day we have not been able to,” said Abboud.

Following the fall of Aleppo on 23 December and the evacuation of civilians and rebel fighters from the besieged enclave, the Syrian army declared a pivotal victory against "terrorism”, while key ally Russia hailed it a "very important" step.

Iranian forces and militias linked to Tehran – including Hezbollah - have played a crucial role in supporting the troops of Syrian President Assad, particularly in the battle of Aleppo.

The fall of Aleppo has been considered the biggest victory for Assad's forces in nearly six years of civil war and a major win for his foreign backers.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.