Syria's Islamists refuse to talk with U.S. in Turkey


robert Ford in Syria
The U.S. ambassador to Damascus has said a newly formed Islamist alliance in war-torn Syria has refused to meet with American officials, in an interview aired Wednesday on Al Arabiya News Channel.

“The Islamic Front has refused to sit with us without giving any reason,” Robert Ford said, just one day after U.S. State Secretary John Kerry spoke of a “possible” meeting with Syria’s biggest opposition alliance

“We are ready to sit with them because we talk to all parties and political groups in Syria,” Ford told Al Arabiya, speaking in Arabic.

The ambassador returned to Washington in February 2012, after security problems forced the closure of the U.S. embassy in Damascus.

Six opposition groups came together last month to form the Islamic Front, which brings together tens of thousands of fighters and seeks to oust President Bashar al-Assad and establish an Islamic state in Syria, reported Agence France-Presse.

Washington is already meeting with a broad section of Syrian groups to try to end the nearly three-year war through negotiations. However, it has explicitly ruled out any contacts with those linked to al-Qaeda or designated as terrorists by the United States.

Last month, the Islamic Front said it wanted to set up an Islamic state in Syria, but insisted it would protect minorities and not create an “oppressive, authoritarian system,” AFP reported.