Aiming to clarify conflicting statements on its aid to the Free Syrian Army, the Russian Defense Ministry today provided a list of factions within Syria for which it has conducted airstrikes, the first time they’ve offered such a list.
The faction within the Free Syrian Army Russia is backing is called “Ganim.” They also named factions they are working with as the Desert Lions, Kalamun, and the Democratic Forces. Though none of these factions are particularly easy to identify (Kalamun is a village near Damascus, however), the Democratic Forces has been a catch-all term the US has been using for a “coalition” of fighters in Hasakeh Province, which is almost exclusively the Kurdish YPG.
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Moscow for high-profile meetings today, and among the focus of those meetings is putting together a joint US-Russia list of which Syrian factions count as terrorists and which do not.
This has been a subject of considerable debate, with a lot of the rebel factions nebulously defined, and having forces aligned with al-Qaeda and ISIS but also trying to present themselves as comparative “moderates.”
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