Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a sharp statement on Saturday denouncing the US and other countries, “There is bewilderment in Moscow about attempts by some of our foreign partners who are fond of insisting on the observance of human rights in all corners of the world to flirt with Islamist groups in Syria, trying to represent some of them as ‘moderate’ forces opposing the ‘regime of Bashar al-Assad.”
We have translated the full statement below.
The statement is another sign of the breakdown in political efforts after the US-Russia initiative for a Geneva “peace” conference ended in stalemate earlier this month. Those efforts have been further complicated in the last week by the crisis and Russian military intervention in Ukraine.
The statement continues Moscow’s attempts to conflate the insurgency into groups of radical, foreign Islamist jihadis all linked to Al Qa’eda, whose goal is to establish an Islamic Caliphate.
In a trend aimed at both emphasizing the sectarian nature of the conflict and appealing to domestic and Western interests, Russia once again pointed to the plight of Christian Syrians, noting reports that ISIS had imposed a medieval system of Islamic poll tax on Christians in Raqqa.
Moscow also continued to push the line that there can be no “military solution” in Syria — a position that both inherently condemns attempts to support “moderate” insurgents with military aid, and rules out any foreign military intervention of any kind — stressing again that the solution must come through “inter-Syrian” talks in Geneva, talks which according to Russia must include the Assad regime.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also took the opportunity to praise the Syrian Arab Army for what it said was a major victory against the Islamic Front in East Ghouta, claiming that Assad’s forces had killed 175 people — an incident in which a survivor, insurgents, and activists say scores of civilians died.
The Ministry also praised “local ceasefires” reached between the Syrian regime and groups in insurgent-held suburbs of Damascus, claiming that the Assad regime has “regulated the legal status” of hundreds of former opposition fighters. Meanwhile, the opposition has slammed the ceasefires as the reluctant submission of local people to “surrender or starve” sieges.
The full statement:
The bloody confrontations between government forces and numerous extremist and terrorist groups in Syria are continuing.
Militants associated with al-Qaeda are killing civilians, organizing mass public executions, torturing and capturing hostages, and are destroying the country’s economic potential that took decades to build. All of the Islamic radicals in Syria are united in their aim — which they are willing to attain with complete brutality, annihilating whoever necessary, including women and children — the construction of the Caliphate, where life will be determined according a medieval interpretation of Sharia Law.
The way thatwill look in practice can already be observed in the areas controlled by units of the “Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (ISIS). Recently, international public opinion was shocked by reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa, which for about a year has been completely under the authority of the jihadists.
There “fighters for the bright future of Syria” from ISIS besieged all those who remain in the city after persecuting Christians with the poll tax – the “jizya”.
According to information posted on the group’s website, all the infidels who refuse to convert to Islam will have to pay, according to their income, a tax in gold. The size of the tribute in today’s exchange rates for the precious metal will be about a thousand euros a year.
Furthermore, Christians are forbidden to build new and renovate old churches and monasteries. They cannot erect crosses on their churches, hold services outside places of worship, ring bells, or hold religious processions.
Followers of Christianity are prevented from distributing religious literature and paraphernalia with a religious content.
Women must wear traditional Muslim garb and cover their heads . All these requirements have been discarded by modern Syrian society, which has always been characterized by a peaceful and respectful coexistence of its different ethno-religious groups since the Middle Ages.
In this context, Moscow is puzzled by the attempts of some of our foreign partners, who love to talk about human rights in all parts of the world, to flirt with Islamist groups in Syria, in an attempt to present some of them as “moderate” forces opposed to “the Assad regime”.
Against this background, the government forces of the Syrian Arab Army are carrying out an uncompromising struggle against extremists and terrorists across the country.
Recently militants from Jabhat al-Nusra and the group Liwa al-Islam, a member of the Islamic Front, trying to break out from East Ghouta were ambushed and lost 175 men. This operation by the Syrian military was one of the most successful in recent years, and struck a powerful blow to the armed opposition in the vicinity of the capital.
We reiterate that the Syrian conflict has no military solution, and should be resolved through political and diplomatic means, via ongoing inter-Syrian dialog in Geneva, the purpose of which is for Syrians themselves to determine the future of their country, in which all ethnic and religious groups will feel safe and enjoy equal rights.
In this regard, we welcome the continued practice of local cease fires in Syria, under whose terms the authorities have granted “regulated legal status” to 350 people in the population centers Bukejn and Madai west of Damascus, who were formerly involved in the fighting on the side of the opposition.
Similar measures have been implemented with regard to a further 50 people who laid down their arms in the old city of Homs. Another 82 militants gave up resistance to the authorities in Darayya.