12:17 GMT +316 February 2019
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    A Russian aircraft on a sortie to carry out targeted airstrikes on ISIS infrastructure in Syria

    Europe, US Unable to Help Russia Identify Syria's 'Moderate' Opposition

    © Photo : Russian Defence Ministry
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    Neither the United States, nor European countries have been able to help Russia identify “moderate” opposition groups in Syria for possible cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL) terrorist group, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) On Thursday, following Tuesday's talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Assad was ready to consider Moscow providing support to some Syrian opposition groups, provided their goal was to fight terrorism.

    Since the beginning of Moscow's aerial campaign against ISIL militants in Syria on September 30, Russia has repeatedly emphasized its readiness to cooperate with the so-called moderate Syrian opposition. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in October that Moscow had requested US and UK assistance in establishing contact with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to set up political dialogue toward settling the Syrian conflict, however Washington has made no attempts to contact Russia regarding the FSA.

    “Each time we had to emphasize that attempts to differentiate the so-called moderate opposition fail,” Peskov said.

    Attempts to identify moderate forces from among the “motley palette of various terrorist and extremist organizations” that pose a threat to the territorial and political integrity of Syria have also failed, the Kremlin spokesman added.

    “Unfortunately, neither the United States nor Europe can help us with this identification, they are unable to point to some so-called moderate forces,” Peskov said.

    Syria has been in the state of a civil war since 2011. Government forces have been fighting on multiple fronts, against several opposition factions and extremist insurgent groups, including ISIL.

    Russia launched pinpoint airstrikes against ISIL jihadists in Syria on September 30 at Assad’s request. The United States has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL in Syria since 2014, as well as providing support to so-called moderate opposition factions.

    Moscow intends to discuss the fight against terrorism with the United States and Middle East countries, including the Syrian authorities, Dmitry Peskov said.

    "This will require, of course, opinion exchange with the legitimate Syrian authorities, President [Bashar] Assad and his representatives… The Russian side consistently invites to the dialogue and invites to cooperation the regional [Middle Eastern] states, the United States and the other states participating in this anti-terrorist operation," Peskov said.

    Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with the country’s government fighting against opposition factions and radical Islamists, including the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group.

    On September 30, Russia began precision airstrikes at ISIL positions in Syria at the request of Assad.

    Since the beginning of the air campaign, the Russian Aerospace Forces have carried out some 930 strikes, killing several hundred militants and destroying dozens of command centers, and depots used by the terrorists.

    A US-led coalition of countries has been bombing ISIL positions in Syria since 2014 without the approval of the UN Security Council or Damascus.


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