Faced with yet another round of angry US condemnations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today said that the US-backed “moderate” rebels in Syria are continuing to mingle closely with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, noting this is “complicating” their air campaign.
Under the terms of the most recent ceasefire in Syria, everyone is allowed to target ISIS and Nusra Front forces, and Russia has been trying to do both, intermittently. The US, however, has pressed them heavily to leave al-Qaeda alone, complaining that those strikes are hitting US allies too often.
Russia stopped for awhile, but once again hit a group of rebels who the US says are “moderates” fighting against ISIS, saying that the Russians’ conduct is “problematic” in Syria. The rebels, however, are in the area along the Syria-Jordan-Iraq border, which has significant Nusra presence.
Throughout the Syrian Civil War, Nusra has been in bed with most of the rest of the rebellion, and while the US occasionally attacks them too, and similarly gets criticized by the other rebels, Russia has done so more often, trying to help the Syrian government recover territory from Nusra, and by extension from “the rebels.”
Fighting al-Qaeda is getting more and more controversial in Syria, but Russian officials are so far just shrugging off the US criticism.