Russia cites ‘fake’ FSA general to support DAESH claim

Russian media interview man posing as Free Syrian Army brigadier to support Russian Defense Ministry claim that DAESH selling oil to Turkey

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, December 2, 2015

In an interview with Russian news website Sputnik, a Syrian man named Hosam Alawak, who claims to be a Free Syrian army (FSA) brigadier, said he is in possession of contracts proving the Turkish government had purchased oil from DAESH terrorist organisation, using Qatari imported vehicles.

“We have photos of the contracts of oil deals signed between the Turkish party and DAESH… We also have photos of [buying] vehicles – Toyota cars bought by Qatar, which have the name of “al-ghanem” – [which] entered Syria along with armored vehicles used by militants of DAESH for their leaders’ transportation,” said Alawak to Sputnik on Wednesday.

However, Alawak turned out to be a man residing in Egypt without any relation to FSA. 

The Russian media reports emerged almost simultaneously with the Russian Defence Ministry providing maps claiming that DAESH oil is being smuggled into Turkey through PYD controlled areas.

According to the maps, oil was moved from Raqqa, so called capital of DAESH in Syria, into Turkey passing from areas controlled by PYD, which Turkey considers as the Syrian wing of the PKK terrorist organisation.

"Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq," said Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.

Media reports said Alawak has no relation to the FSA leadership, and currently resides in Egyptian capital of Cairo, a city that suffered a military coup by Abdel Fatah al Sisi, who developed good relations with Russia after seizing power.

TRTWorld confirmed the media reports after contacting FSA leadership. 

FSA legal advisor Osama Abu Zaid told TRTWorld “I never hear of him, and the most senior leaders to the FSA also never heard of him as well, but if he resides in Cairo, then surely he’s not an FSA leader.”

“A lot of people take advantage of the name of various Syrian opposition entities, but I can assure you I have never heard of this name (Alawak) before,” Abu Zaid added.

"Turkey has been of great help for the Syrian people, and is currently the most important country in the war against DAESH" Abu Zaid added, reiterating that the FSA declared Russia 'an enemy state', and there's no way FSA generals would even go to Russian news agencies and give statements.

In addition to Abu Zaid, Islam Alloush, one of the Syrian opposition fighting faction, Jaish al Islam’s leaders, told TRTWorld that “he never heard of the name of Hussam Alawak all through the conflict’s years”.

Other reports circulating around Alawak’s identity, include himself posing with different posts, ranks and even positions within different organisations.

It is said that Alawak was fired from the Syrian army in 2005 for indecent behaviour, and that he gave his current military rank to himself, and he was not in fact promoted within the Syrian army.

Germany says Turkey did not purchase oil from DAESH, Assad did

Germany has accused the Bashar al Assad regime in Syria of purchasing oil from the DAESH terrorist group which has seized swathes of land across the country, as well as in neighbouring Iraq.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Tuesday, German Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli said that there was evidence that oil transactions between the Assad regime and the Al Qaeda offshoot had taken place.

"The Assad regime has received large amounts of oil from [DAESH]. We have evidence; we have indications showing that this is the case," Chebli was quoted saying by Anadolu Agency.

Chebli also denied Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that Turkey was smuggling oil out of DAESH-controlled territories, saying there was no evidence to support such suggestions.

Row between Turkey and Russia

The current row between Russia and Turkey started when a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkish fighter jets for violating Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings.

Russia has been a key ally to the Syrian regime president Bashar al Assad all throughout the conflict that started in March 2011, and killed over 250,000 people, most of whom were killed by the Assad regime.

On September 30, Russia started air strikes in Syria, with the initial announced goal of battling DAESH. However, Russian targets were mostly civilian areas where Syrian opposition forces are stationed.

Russian strikes also boosted DAESH influence in the already troubled region, since Syrian opposition forces often battle DAESH, not only Assad’s regime.

Only a few countries worldwide support the Russian intervention in Syria, including Iran and Egypt.

TRTWorld and agencies