The Free Syrian Army’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Ahmed Berri, denied claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that his country supported the FSA with arms and air cover.
Berri said that Russia’s air force attacks FSA positions and the rebel-held areas on a daily basis, including field hospitals, public markets, bakeries and civilian homes. Berri said only a few of the Russian airstrikes have targeted ISIS positions.
Berri added that Russia is an aggressor country that supports the murderous Assad regime which has committed the most heinous massacres against the Syrian people for over five years.
Secretary-General Mohammed Yahya Maktabi said that Russia has become a partner to the Assad regime in committing genocidal crimes against the Syrian people as hundreds of civilians continue to be killed in the ongoing Russian air camping in Syria.
Stressing the fact that the FSA has never asked for Russia’s military support, Maktabi called on Russia to end its aggression on Syria and stop targeting civilians, rebel positions and vital civilian facilities including schools and hospitals. Maktabi also called upon Russia to stop supplying the Assad regime with the means to continue the slaughter the people in Syria, which Russia has stepped up following attempts at reviving the political process.
Maktabi pointed out that while Russia justifies its aggression on Syria on the pretext of fighting ISIS, the extremist group has made gains against the FSA as a result of Russian air strikes on its positions.
Maktabi concluded by saying that Russia has claimed it intervened in Syria to help forge a political solution to the crisis. However, Russia has only brought about more bloodshed and destruction and made Assad more intransigent saying recently he would not negotiate with the Syrian opposition.
Meanwhile, the US State Department said on Friday it was unable to confirm claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country supported the Free Syrian Army, along with Syrian government forces, with arms and air support.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said he had seen reports about Putin’s statement on Friday that Russia had supported the Free Syrian Army in joint operations alongside Syrian government troops against Islamist militants.
“It’s unclear to us … whether these claims of support to the FSA are true,” Kirby said. “So I’m not in a position to validate the comments except to say that as we’ve said in the past, the vast majority of air strikes conducted by Russian military aircraft” are against groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and not aimed at Islamic State, he said. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)