A senior Russian lawmaker said Sunday that the recent refusal of 19 Syrian opposition groups to attend a peace conference in Geneva was instigated by their foreign backers.
“Nineteen groups in the Syrian opposition, which is incapable of acting without outside support, ‘rejected’ Geneva-2. It means their sponsors want it to fall through,” Alexei Pushkov, the head of State Duma’s foreign policy committee, said on Twitter.
The militant groups, most of them moderate Islamists, announced their decision in a joint statement on late Saturday.
Geneva-2, tentatively set for November 23, is meant to bring the Syrian government and the rebels to the negotiation table in hopes of ending the 2 1/2-year-long civil strife in the Middle Eastern country.
Pushkov, a former TV host and a foreign policy hawk, did not name the alleged sponsors.
But he has previously criticized Western countries, particularly the United States, for their support of the Syrian opposition in their battle against the Moscow-backed government in Damascus.
A number of groups in the fractured Syrian opposition have already voiced reluctance to participate in Geneva-2, which is set up jointly by Moscow and Washington.