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India-origin IS fighters will be handed back: Syrian envoy

Syria and India have strong security cooperation and intelligence-sharing and any India-origin Islamic State fighters captured in the war-torn country will be handed over to New Delhi, Syrian ambassador Riad Abbas said on Thursday.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2019 23:43 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Syria,India,Islamic State
If the Syrian government captures any Indian-origin Daesh member, they will hand him over to India,” Syrian envoy said. (AP/Representative Image )

Syria and India have strong security cooperation and intelligence-sharing and any India-origin Islamic State fighters captured in the war-torn country will be handed over to New Delhi, Syrian ambassador Riad Abbas said on Thursday.

Any efforts by New Delhi to resolve differences between Syria and Israel as well as in the overall Middle East peace process will be welcomed by Damascus, Abbas said during an interaction with reporters. He also called on India’s public and private sectors to invest in the reconstruction of Syria.

The envoy’s remarks came against the backdrop of Islamic State members acknowledging the death of Shafi Armar, a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka, on March 19 during fighting in the terror group’s last remaining stronghold of Baghouz in Syria.

Abbas said he didn’t have details of the situation on the ground but added: “I can tell you we have cordial and strong relations in intelligence-sharing with India. We are sharing intelligence on all issues. If the Syrian government captures any Indian-origin Daesh member, they will hand him over to India.”

Expressing appreciation for India’s position on the Syrian crisis, Abbas said, “We have full faith in the Indian policy towards the Middle East, and we highly trust the Indian position, especially if they want to play any pro-active role inside Syria or in the Middle East peace process. We will be happy to see an Indian role.”

India is uniquely placed to play such a role as it has never been a coloniser or aggressor, and was instead a victim of colonisation, he added.

India, Abbas said, has contributed to the rebuilding of Syria and the government has now invited firms from India’s public and private sectors to invest in the country, especially in oil, gas, power, infrastructure such as highways, airports and cities, and low-cost housing.

“Syria’s public sector has been devastated and it is a virgin country for development. We are ready to share our mineral and natural resources with friendly countries for mutual benefits,” he said, adding UN agencies had estimated $400 billion to $600 billion will be required to rebuild the country.

Though Syria’s membership of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been suspended, Abbas said his country backed full membership for India at OIC. “Syria’s position within OIC was always in support of India and Syria had reservations about any resolutions or declarations that condemned India. We would welcome India as a full member as it has the second largest Muslim population,” he said.

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 19:21 IST