In a statement today, Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time reported Russia is directly arming a Syrian rebel faction, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), in their fight against various Islamist factions. In addition to arms, the FSA was given ammunition, and air cover by Russian warplanes.
Details on where this aid is actually going are scant, and the FSA consists of scores of independent forces with no real central command. Previously, Russian warplanes had attacked FSA forces near Idlib Province, but that faction is allied with al-Qaeda.
The US State Department confirmed they’d seen reports of Russia supporting the FSA, but said it was “unclear” if they were actually true. They followed by reiterating their complaints that Russia is launching strikes against factions that are not ISIS.
Russia has been trying to get some of the moderate rebel factions, including parts of the FSA, to agree to ally with the Syrian government to fight against ISIS and other Islamist factions. So far they haven’t succeeded, but this could suggest more progress to that end.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
- New US Sanctions Target North Korea's Trading Partners, Banks - September 21st, 2017
- Catalan Officials: Police Raids Are a Blow to Referendum - September 21st, 2017
- Russia Warns It Would Retaliate Against US Forces in Syria If Provoked - September 21st, 2017
- Tillerson: Iran 'Technically' Complying With Nuclear Deal - September 21st, 2017
- South Korea Unexpectedly Approves Aid to North - September 21st, 2017