October 22, 2016

German secret service in talks with Syrian spies: Report

Aim of renewed BND contacts with Damascus is to exchange information about militants, especially those in Islamic State, according to Germany daily.

Berlin: Germany`s foreign intelligence service BND has resumed cooperation with the Syrian secret service in the fight against Islamist extremists, according to a newspaper report on Friday.

The BND did not immediately comment on the report by Bild newspaper which comes as Berlin and other Western governments shun official cooperation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his regime`s abuses.

The mass-circulation daily, citing unnamed “informed sources”, said BND agents had been travelling regularly to Damascus for talks with their Syrian counterparts and that the service wanted to reopen an office there.

The aim was to exchange information on Islamist extremists, and to open a channel of communication in the event of a crisis, such as a German Tornado pilot being shot down over territory held by jihadists.

Germany has deployed Tornado surveillance aircraft and other non-combat military support to the US-led coalition fighting the jihadist Islamic State group, which controls wide areas of Syria and Iraq.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has argued the world must seek a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict to end the killing there, to better focus on fighting IS, and to reduce massive refugee flows to Europe.

But she has repeatedly stressed that this must not include cooperation with Assad whom she said “keeps dropping barrel bombs on his own people”, and whose regime was the main cause of the refugee exodus.

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