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  • Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moualem concludes his address to the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Oct. 2, 2015.

    Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moualem concludes his address to the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Oct. 2, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 October 2015

Syria says Russia's campaign against militant groups in Syria is likely to be more successful than U.S.-led efforts.

Syria slammed U.S.-led airstrikes as a failure at the United Nations Friday, while welcoming Russian cooperation.

“Airstrikes are useless unless they are conducted in collaboration with the Syrian army,” said Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Moualem.

Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, Moualem said U.S.-led airstrikes have been ineffective at curbing the spread of organizations like the Islamic State group, which occupies much of Syria's east and Iraq's north west.

“Terrorism cannot be fought from the air,” he said.

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During the same speech, the deputy prime minister praised Russia's recently launched airstrike campaign. Moualem said the Russian initiative is likely to be more effective than the U.S.-led campaign, due to Moscow's willingness to coordinate strikes with the Syrian military.

Moualem continued by calling on the international community to do more to curb the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, and argued some member states are actively supporting militant groups fighting to overthrow the government. He also argued Syria remains committed to stamping out “terrorism.”

“The Syrian army and Syrian people are united in the face of terrorism,” he added.

Syria has been in a state of civil war for over four years. The conflict has left over 200,000 dead, and displaced over 7 million people.

The United States has led a campaign of aerial bombardment in Syria since late 2014, mostly claiming to be targeting the Islamic State group, without collaborating with the Syrian government.

While the Islamic State group's advance in Iraq has been brought to a grinding halt this year, its slow creep across north and east Syria has continued. The militant group now controls around a third of the country – more territory than any other Syrian rebel group, despite the U.S.-led aerial bombardment. The one-year-old campaign has cost an estimated US$2.7 billion.

Earlier this year, the United States' coordinator of the campaign in Iraq and Syria, General John Allen, said close to half of the Islamic state group's leaders had been killed. However, so far the Islamic State group has recognized the deaths of barely a handful of its officials, and independent analysts say its unlikely anywhere near half of the group's administrative apparatus has been wiped out.

"The Islamic State has publicly announced when senior members of the group have been killed. But they have never talked about anyone in the core leadership being killed since 2010,” Cole Bunzel, a Princeton University scholar of Near Eastern Studies told Bloomberg in March.

"I am very skeptical of the claim that the coalition has killed 50 percent of the leadership of the Islamic State, whatever that means,” Bunzel stated.

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