A Russian envoy to the United Nations says the Western-backed opposition in Syria is affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra, which itself is linked to the terrorist al-Qaeda group.
“These oppositionists are affiliated with al-Nusra, which is, in turn, affiliated with al-Qaeda,” Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Office in Geneva Alexey Borodavkin said on Thursday.
“Therefore, we ask ourselves again – what do our Western partners think of when they support such oppositionists?… It looks like the repeat of the mistakes that have already been made,” he added.
Borodavkin said, “Syria should not become a ‘slightly retouched version’ of Daesh as a result of the political transition, but we have an impression that this is exactly what some of the opposition members seek.”
The Russian envoy called on the West to stop support for shadowy militant groups. “Our Western partners should think better who they help and who they support.”
He also called for the inclusion of Syrian Kurds in the next round of the Syrian peace talks, which he urged to be resumed no later than February 25.
He said that the Kurds, who are “effectively fighting against Daesh,” have the right to “determine their country’s future.”
According to Borodavkin, the country’s political and humanitarian issues cannot be resolved without the participation of the Kurds in the talks.
Borodavkin also denounced the three-week suspension of peace talks, announced by the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Wednesday. The talks in Geneva unraveled less than a week after they had kicked off.
The Russian diplomat said the reason for the halt had been the “unconstructive position” of the opposition delegation.
The talks halted after the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), a Saudi-backed anti-Damascus opposition group, failed to attend a meeting.
The nearly five-year long conflict in Syria has killed more than 260,000 people and forced millions from their homes since its onset in 2011.