Moscow – Russia is supporting the opposition Free Syrian Army with air cover, arms and ammunition in conjunct operations with Syrian troops in order to fight islamist militants, president Vladimir Putin stated on Friday.

Declarations from Putin seem to be the first to affirm Moscow is truly supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s adversaries in the combat against forces from the Islamic State. The month before he said that some terrorist targets which the Free Syrian Army recognized were impacted by the Russian air force.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said hours later after Putin’s statements that the president has been talking about weapons supplies to the armed forces which are loyal to Assad. That being said, he did not clarify the situation about the supplies to the Free Syrian Army. In other words, the spokesman did not refuse the opposition force was going to get ammunition from Russia.  

Putin and Kerry in 2013. Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Western and Arab states that have been deploying air attacks against the Islamic State for approximately a year, have declared jets from Russia mainly hit other rebel forces in the west of Syria, Reuters reported.

The international community has already declared about Russia’s statements. John Kirby, U.S State Department spokesman said it was unclear to them whether those claims of support to the FSA were true, as he pointed out the vast majority of Russian air strikes have targeted groups opposed to Assad.

Michael Fallon, the British Defense Secretary said, at a conference in Pentagon News, that Russia began bombing the Free Syrian Army and it was good news if they were now supporting them. 

“What they’ve got to do is stop propping up the Assad regime, stop bombing opposition groups who are opposed to the Assad regime … and get behind the political process that is now under way of leading that country to a more pluralist government and a future without Assad,” Fallon said.

It is known that more than 60,000 people are fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. According to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu the impact of Islamic State is becoming bigger in Syria, as nearly 70 percent of the country is controlled by militants.

Kerry and Putin will meet next week

On Tuesday John F. Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, will travel to Moscow in order to talk with the Russian president about the conflict in Syria and a possible negotiation between opposition groups and the Damascus government.

According to State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner they will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria and related efforts to degrade and destroy ISIS.

Source: Washington Post