Saudi-Backed Syrian Opposition Considers Jaish Al-Islam 'Moderate Rebels'
21:39 01.02.2016(updated 22:10 01.02.2016)
The delegation of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) representing the Riyadh-backed Syrian opposition at Geneva talks does not view Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham as extremist groups, HNC spokesman told Sputnik on Monday.
GENEVA (Sputnik) – Moscow continues to oppose the participation of Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham groups, which are considered terrorist organizations by Russia, in the Geneva talks.
'These people are first and foremost Syrians, not foreigners. They are not extremists. If they were extremists, they would have never agreed to participate with political process. That is important,' Makhous Monzer said.
Earlier, the Saudi-backed alliance of Syrian opposition groups named Mohammed Alloush, a member of the Jaish al-Islam group, which gained notoriety for repeatedly shelling Damascus and its suburbs with mortar rounds and rockets, as its chief negotiator at the talks.
Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the country's government fighting a number of opposition factions and radical Islamist groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front.
The delegation of the High Negotiations Committee is ready to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov if they receive such a proposal, a NHC spokesman told Sputnik on Monday.
'We are ready to meet with him if he suggests us, but so far Moscow was unwilling to talk to us,' Makhous Monzer said.
He stressed that the HNC was always open for dialogue with all the parties.
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