Syrian rebels say Russia has to stop bombing before helping

Syrian opposition factions related to Free Syrian Army says they did not refuse a Russian offer of military support, but Russian shelling of rebel targets must stop first

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Residents ride motorcycles near smoke rising from what activists said was an airstrike carried out by the Russian air force in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria October 24, 2015.

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 immediately stop 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 that the Russian air force is ready to help the "patriotic" Syrian opposition.

Russia started its air strikes in Syria on September 30, with initial aim of battling ISIS militancy. However, the Russian intentions in Syria appeared to be to only protect the Bashar al Assad regime and withering authorities.

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

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is led mostly by former Syrian military officers who defected from the regime army.

According to Reuters, some FSA leaders have received foreign military support, including training and weapons from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Nations opposed to the brutality of Assad regime, like Turkey, Jordan have helped the FSA as well. Assad's foreign opponents include Gulf Arab states and Turkey, and his two main supporters are Iran and Russia.

Previous claims about rejecting Russian help

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 out of Syria, in jail, or pursued by the regime, he said.

"It means they are asking for Assad to stay in an interim period."

"Holding elections is illogical and unrealistic because the Syrian people is either displaced, disappeared in prisons, or pursued by the regime," he said.

Earlier this month, a Russian air strike destroyed the main weapons of a US backed opposition faction, Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, which has been fighting both ISIS and the regime near Aleppo.

"I will not talk to my killer," Hassan Haj Ali, the head of the rebel group, told Reuters when asked about Moscow's ideas.

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



TRTWorld and agencies