Adding to US claims that the vast majority of Russian airstrikes in Syria aren’t targeting ISIS, but rather other rebel factions, the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal (Falcons of the Mountain) brigade is claiming that Russia attacked and destroyed their main weapons depots in western Aleppo Province on Tuesday.
The Falcons are part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the recipients of massive amounts of arms from the CIA earlier in the war. The group also claims large funding from other unnamed “Arab and foreign countries” and insists it is fighting ISIS as well as the Syrian government.
Which all appears to be true enough, but absent in the story is that this faction of the FSA has been closely allied with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in the offensive in Idlib, which left them in control of that province. With one of the main early focuses of Russia’s Syria campaign retaking territory in Idlib Province to more readily connect the capital of Damascus to the Latakia coast.
So while the group is a “US-backed” rebel faction, and the US expresses anger at them being in a target in the war, Russia is likely seeing attacks on their weapons depots as akin to attacks on al-Qaeda’s own weapons caches. This likely doesn’t make the US feel any better, as former officials like David Petraeus have been angling to get the US to ally with al-Qaeda formally.
Ironically, the US faced similar criticism when it first started striking Syria for undermining al-Qaeda’s position in the northwest with airstrikes, and Russia has argued that their policy essentially mirrors America’s.
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