Howard backs deal with Syrian president

ENDING the Syrian civil war will require Western powers to seek an alliance with Syrian president and accused war criminal Bashar al-Assad, according to John Howard.

The former Prime Minister told an economic forum in Sydney that negotiating with a man accused of killing thousands of his own people was the way forward.

"If it takes some kind of interim deal and some kind of arrangement about his future then it is a price worth paying," he said.

Mr Howard said military force was needed to defeat IS and praised France for launching air strikes against the group.

"We are dealing with a group of absolute fanatics. I'm not attracted to the idea that it can only be solved politically," he said.