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Moscow insists Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar ash-Sham must be on list of terrorist groups in Syria

December 31, 2015, 15:46 UTC+3

"Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham are criminal and terrorist organizations, which must be eliminated and their criminal activities must be stopped," a Russian deputy foreign minister told TASS

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© Gennady Khamelyanin/TASS

MOSCOW, December 31. /TASS/. The Russian side so far believes it is unnecessary to make public its proposals for the list of terrorist groups active in Syria that should be excluded from the political settlement process, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told TASS in an interview.

"The work on the list of terrorist groups in Syria that would be acceptable for all has not been finished yet," he said. "I will not report the exact list of our proposals on the candidates to be put on the terrorist list - it is still part of the process of coordination of positions that should unite all members of the international Syria Support Group, so the haste and even publicity is apparently unnecessary here."

Nevertheless, the official made an exception for two groups - Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham. "The specified groups, in our view, should be included in the final variant of the list, as they cannot make a contribution to attaining the political tasks for all Syria," he said. "Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham are criminal terrorist organisations that should be liquidated, and their criminal activity - stopped. There is, believe me, convincing evidence to this that is also known to our foreign partners."

Jaysh al-Islam is behind a long series of terrorist acts, Syromolotov said. Thus, in July 2012, this group claimed responsibility for the bombing of the headquarters of the National Security Bureau in Damascus, which killed several members of the Syrian leadership, including former Defense minister of Syria Dawoud Abdallah Rajiha. In 2013, after seizing the town of Adra (north of Damascus), the same gang massacred members of religious minorities (Alawite and Ismaili), and in May 2015 launched a mortar attack on the Russian embassy in Damascus. This attack was recognised as a terrorist act by the UN Security Council.

In addition, the group is responsible for the indiscriminate shelling of neighbourhoods of the Syrian capital, resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of civilians. It is the Jaysh al-Islam militants who carried in cages around the Syrian cities seized by them prisoners of war together with their wives and children, who used the civilian population as human shield for them, and organized mass public executions, videos of which they later made public with pride.

"It is also important to bear in mind that many militants from the Jabhat al-Nusra group, recognized as terrorist by the UN Security Council, which is a branch of the notorious Al Qaeda, enlisted to the ranks of Jaysh al-Islam," said the Russian deputy foreign minister.

"The US side, actually not regarding Jaysh al-Islam as moderate opposition, sometimes proposes to discuss admitting this organization to the negotiations on the political settlement in Syria," Syromolotov said. "We don’t agree with this position and tell the Americans about this."

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