Syria says Paris attack underlines threat of radical Islamism

Reuters , Thursday 8 Jan 2015

The Syrian government said on Thursday the deadly attack on a magazine in Paris showed the danger of the kind of Islamist militancy espoused by insurgent groups fighting in the Syrian civil war.

A government statement blamed "short-sighted European policies" for such incidents in Europe and bloodshed in Syria. Western states including France have backed the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.

"This terrorist act makes clear without doubt the dangers posed by the spread of the phenomenon of takfiri terrorism, which poses a threat to stability and security across the world," said the statement, published by the Syrian state news agency.

"Takfiri terrorism" is a reference to the radical Sunni Islamism of groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State, now the most powerful insurgent group in Syria after seizing seized wide areas of Syria and Iraq.

Twelve people were killed in the presumed Islamist militant attack on Wednesday at the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, which has often lampooned Islam and other religions as well as politicians and other public figures.

France has taken a strong position against Assad since the rebellion against him erupted in 2011. Inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, it descended into a civil war the United Nations estimates has killed around 200,000 people.

France was the first Western country to recognise the Syrian opposition. Echoing the U.S. position, Paris has ruled out Assad as an ally in the fight against Islamic State.

The Syrian government, which is backed by Russia and Iran, had said it was ready to join international efforts to tackle Islamic State after a U.S.-led coalition launched air strikes against it.

Assad last year said states that supported terrorism would pay a high a price, in a reference to the risk of Islamist attacks on their own soil.

"In the Syrian view, what happened (in Paris) ... will support the view that says we must partner with the Syrian government," said Salem Zahran, a Lebanese political analyst close to the Syrian government and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

The Syrian government's non-jihadist opponents say it has focused its firepower against them instead of Islamic State, giving the radicals room to expand.

"The events and threats that have targeted more than one European city confirm the short-sightedness of European policies and their responsibility for these events and the blood that has flown in Syria," said the Syrian statement, attributed to a foreign ministry official.

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