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The New Arab

Free Syrian Army factions reject Russian offer of negotiations

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Moscow wanted negotiations with the FSA [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 8 October, 2015

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Russia said it wants to negotiate with the Syrian moderate rebel group, but leaders from the FSA told al-Araby al-Jadeed they reject talks with Moscow.

The Suqour al-Ghab brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) this week said it rejected any negotiations with Russia, stressing that it refuses to deal with Moscow as a partner in any solution in Syria.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia had said it was willing to open talks with the leadership of the FSA.

A spokesman for the group, who identified himself as "al-Hakim", told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service that the FSA factions considered Russia an enemy just like the regime, Iran, and Hizballah - and rejected negotiations with Moscow because of its complicity in killing and displacing Syrians and destroying their infrastructure.

The spokesman said FSA factions had met on Wednesday to discuss urgent developments, after which all FSA commanders and representatives present agreed to designate Russia as an enemy, which cannot mediate between the regime and the rebels.

Al-Hakim said the FSA seems to have forced Russia to acknowledge its existence after repelling the Russian-backed offensive in the Hama countryside.

The spokesman said Russia had previously consistently denied the existence of the FSA and the existence of any "moderate" Syrian groups.

Suqour al-Ghab was founded in February 2012, and operates primarily in the Hama and Idlib countrysides. The FSA faction also took part in battles in the Aleppo countryside.

In turn, Maamoun Sweid, commander of the Central Battalion, another FSA-affiliated faction, told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service: "Our response to the [Russian] offer was what happened today in the Hama countryside, where we repelled an offensive by regime forces supported by Russian warplanes, inflicting heavy losses on them."

He added: "Russia is an occupying power and we shall deal with it accordingly. Russia will regret its actions as Iran and Hizballah did before."

Moscow said on Wednesday it was ready to establish contacts with the Free Syrian Army, to find a political solution to the crisis.

The Kremlin's foreign ministry said it wanted to inform its partners with "links to the Free Syrian Army of the Russian side's readiness to establish contacts with the leadership of this structure".

Moscow said it wanted to include the Free Syrian Army in preparation for "a political settlement of the Syrian crisis through negotiations between the Syrian government and the patriotic opposition". Russia said the foreign ministry "will continue contacts with the full spectrum of the Syrian opposition".

FSA in Russian: we will fight to the end

Meanwhile, the FSA has posted video showing a field commander in the southern Syrian province of Daraa addressing the Russian people in Russian.

The man identified as Adham Akrad, aka Abu Qusai, called on the Russian people to support the Syrian revolution and
the Syrian people.

The video has since been trending heavily on social media.

"We are the Free Syrian Army in Daraa," says Akrad in the video. "We want you to know that we will fight to the end. It is a matter of time before Bashar al-Assad will fall."

Akrad then speaks directly to address the Russian government and people: "Support the revolutionaries of the land. Enough! We do not want Syria to become a second Afghanistan."

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