Free Syrian Army denies reports its delegates visited Moscow

Free Syrian Army denies Russian reports that FSA Delegation had visited Moscow

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Free Syrian Army fighters of the 101 Division stand behind sandbags near the town of Morek in the northern countryside of Hama, Syria October 14, 2015

Representatives of four factions fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner spoke to Reuters on Tuesday and denied Russian media reports that delegations belonging to the FSA visited Moscow. 

Russian news agency Interfax quoted Russian Foreign Ministry official Mikhail Bogdanov on Tuesday as saying delegations from the Free Syrian Army had visited Moscow several times, including this week.

"Yes, they were here, including this (week) too," Bogdanov said.

"They are here all the time, and those are different people, someone is leaving, someone is arriving, but they all say that they are the representatives of Free Syrian Army," said Bogdanov.

"This talk is not correct," said Ahmed al Seoud, head of the FSA-affiliated 13th Division group, which operates in areas of western Syria being attacked by Russian warplanes.

"The Syrian Coalition considers these claims a part of the Russian misleading propaganda that aims at diverting attention from failures of the Russian aggression on the Syrian people," the Turkey-based National Coalition of Syrian Revolution said on Tuesday.

The spokesman for Alwiyat Seif al Sham, a FSA group operating in southern Syria, said: "Nothing of this sort happened on our part as FSA. It is impossible for us to accept going to Moscow, and to have dialogue with it. We don't want their help."

"We contacted our friends in other areas and nobody went," added the spokesman, Abu Ghiath al Shami.

FSA is led mostly by former Syrian military officers who defected from the regime army. 

The group does not operate with a centralized chain of command. According to Reuters, some FSA leaders have received foreign military support, including training and weapons from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Russia started its air strikes in Syria on September 30, with initial claim of battling ISIS. 

However, in time the Russian intentions in Syria appeared to be to only protecting the Bashar al Assad regime and withering authorities.

Since the beginning of the four-year war in Syria, more than 250,000 Syrians were killed, mainly by Bashar al Assad regime, whilst, half of the country’s population are displaced internally or in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq. More than 350,000 Syrians have also claimed asylum in Europe.

Russia offers military help to the FSA

Syrian rebel groups related to the Free Syrian Army in southern Syria said on Monday that Russia must stop bombing rebels targets before offering them military help. Adding that they did not refuse a Russian offer of military support, contrary to recent speculation.

"We didn't turn down the offer. We just said if the Russians are serious in their offer they should stop immediately targeting our bases and targeting the civil areas," Issam al Rayyes, spokesman for the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, told the BBC.

"We don't need the help now, they should stop attacking our bases and then we can talk about future cooperation."

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday the Russian air force is ready to help the "patriotic" Syrian opposition.

Evidently, the Russian Air Force have hit several rebel groups affiliated to the Free Syrian Army in areas of western Syria crucial to Assad's regime survival.

It was previously reported that Syrian rebel groups linked to the Free Syrian army had rejected Moscow's idea of elections, and turned down the Russian offer of military support, as they suspect the Russian efforts are aimed at keeping Assad in power.

One leading rebel told Reuters that an idea of elections right now is "illogical and unrealistic" with so many people forced from Syria, in jail, or pursued by the regime, he said. "It means they are asking for Assad to stay in an interim period."

TRTWorld and agencies