15:31 GMT29 October 2020
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    Those who are fighting in Syria under the guise of religion are just striving for power, former Syrian army Gen. Mustafa Sheikh said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Diverse political movements with Islamist views seeking to come to power in Syria pose the risk of a "new dictatorship" in the country, former Syrian army Gen. Mustafa Sheikh told reporters on Friday.

    "I do recognize political parties, but I oppose the idea that any political power monopolizes all the opposition forces, speaking on behalf of the Sunnis or anyone else… We have a tough choice — either a regime or a new Islamic dictatorship. I do not want either," Sheikh said.

    He added that there were too many political movements in Syria which split the people, and which were fighting with each other under the guise of religion.

    "These people, who hide behind Islamic slogans, just want to come to power," Sheikh said.

    Syrian Ex-General, Officers in Opposition Urge to Preserve Syria’s Unity at Moscow Talks

    A group of Syrian opposition had spoken of the need to keep the nation’s unity at talks with Russian diplomats in Moscow, Sheikh said.

    "The importance of the Syrian issue was underscored … We emphasized the need to preserve Syria’s unity," Sheikh told reporters, quoting the officers’ statement.

    The former general, who used to lead the Free Syrian Army’s military council until 2012, confirmed his group had met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov last Tuesday.

    "Mr. Bogdanov met with our delegation to discuss ways of bringing back peace and ending bloodshed to ensure success of the Astana conference," Sheikh said.

    The Syrian opposition delegation came to Moscow ahead of major intra-Syrian peace talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. They are expected to be followed by a new round of negotiations in Geneva on February 8.

    Since 2011, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition and terrorist groups, including al-Nusra Front and Daesh, which is banned in a range of countries, including Russia.


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    The Syrian war, Free Syrian Army (FSA), Mustafa Sheikh, Syria
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