Last week’s claims from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia is “backing” the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has raised a lot of questions for being non-specific, with Putin saying that Russia is providing air support, ammunition, and weapons.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in Western Syria, however, denied that they were receiving any such support, which perhaps is not surprising as some of the FSA factions in the west are allied with al-Qaeda and fighting against the Assad government.
Other FSA fighters, on the other hand, said they had benefited “indirectly” from Russian airstrikes in their ongoing battle against al-Qaeda. They similarly denied any arms were received, however, and a Putin aide has since insisted no direct arms were provided.
The arms discrepancy is raising more questions, as last week’s statement made it clear such arms were provided, and Russia’s Army Chief of Staff similarly mentioned weapons provisions, though the most recent comments from a Putin aide suggested this did not happen.
Russia is keen to ally with some parts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), particularly those fighting against Islamist factions, but unlike the US seems to be trying to do so at a lower level, courting individual FSA factions instead of blanketly bankrolling the whole group.
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