Russia asks UN to list Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham as 'terrorist'
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Chief negotiator for the main Syrian opposition body (HCN), Army of Islam rebel group's Mohammed Alloush (2nd L) speaks with Syrian opposition body (HCN) delegation head Asaad al-Zoabi prior to a press conference of the HCN in Geneva on April 19, 2016 - AFP photoRussia has asked the United Nations to blacklist a major rebel group that is playing a key role in peace talks to end the Syrian civil war, its ambassador to the UN said.
Mohammed Alloush, a leading figure in Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), is the chief negotiator for the High Negotiations Committee, the war-torn country's main opposition group, at UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva.
Russia, the key backer of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, has also asked that another Islamist rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, be blacklisted.
"The Russian delegation submitted to the UN Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee a request" to add "two organisations: Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham," to a blacklist that includes the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Al-Qaeda, Russia's ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said in a statement April 26.
Churkin said that the two groups are "closely linked to terrorist organisations, primarily the ISIL and Al-Qaeda."
The groups "both give (the ISIL and Al-Qaeda) and receive from them financial, material, technical and military support," he said.
An unprecedented ceasefire deal brokered by Moscow and Washington saw Syria's government and non-jihadist rebel groups agree to halt attacks while pursuing peace talks.
However the HNC pulled out last week from the latest round of talks that began on April 13 in frustration over a spike in violence on the ground.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov angrily accused the HNC's members of throwing "tantrums".
The Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam rebel group is the most important in the Damascus province.
Ahrar al-Sham is among the most powerful Islamist rebel groups in Syria.