Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said his country is ready to support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with air strikes and cooperate closely with the US in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and other factions. Aljazeera reports:
The calls for cooperation came after at least 44 people, including six children, were killed in 24 hours due to Russian and Syrian air strikes across the country, particularly in Idlib province, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported on Saturday. Russia says its strikes are against ISIL and other “terrorists”, but rebels and the US, which is conducting its own campaign against ISIL and some rebel factions, say Moscow has focused more on opposition forces than ISIL.
“The Americans’ refusal to coordinate their anti-terrorist campaign with us is a big mistake. We are seriously prepared for such coordination,” Lavrov said on Saturday. “We are ready to give air support to the patriotic opposition, including the so-called Free Syrian Army, but we need to get in contact with the people who will have the authority to represent certain armed groups.”
Lavrov’s offer on Saturday was immediately rejected by Syrian rebel factions, which dismissed the idea they could cooperate with Russia while it supported President Bashar al-Assad. “Russia is bombing the Free Syrian Army and now it wants to cooperate with us while it remains committed to Assad? We don’t understand Russia at all,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Saoud, a spokesman for the Division 13 rebel group, according to the AFP news agency.