Moscow, March 3, Interfax - Russia on Saturday slammed Western countries for attempts to "flirt" with Islamist rebels in Syria.
"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 [President] Bashar al-Assad,'" Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Syrian government troops are waging an uncompromising fight against extremists and terrorists throughout the country. The other day, militants from Jabhat al-Nusra and the Liwa al-Islam group, which is part of the Islamic Front, who had been surrounded in Eastern Ghouta and tried to break through the siege were ambushed and lost 175 men as dead. It is one of the Syrian military's most successful recent operation and a powerful blow to the armed opposition on the outskirts of the capital," the ministry said.
"The Syrian conflict can have no military solution and must be settled by political and diplomatic means via inter-Syrian negotiations that have been launched in Geneva and aim to enable the Syrians themselves to choose the future for their country, a future where all the ethnic and religious groups would feel secure and enjoy equal rights," it said.
"In this connection, we hail the ongoing practice of local truces in Syria, as part of which, in the towns of Bokayn and Madaya west of Damascus, the authorities have 'settled the legal status' of 350 people who took part in fighting on the side of the opposition. Similar measures have been carried out in regard of 50 people who have surrendered weapons in the old part of Homs. Another 82 militants have ceased resistance to the authorities in Daraya," the ministry said.
"The bloody standoff between government forces and numerous extremist and terrorist groups is continuing in Syria. Militants with Al Qaeda connections kill civilians, organize mass public executions, torture people, take hostage, and destroy the country's economic potential, which has taken decades to create. All Islamic radicals in Syria have the same objective, an objective for whose attainment they are prepared to brutally kill anyone, including women and children, - building a Caliphate, where the entire life is governed by the Shariah in its medieval interpretations," the statement said.
"The districts controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) offer an example of the way this would look in practice. The other day, the international community was shocked by reports from the Syrian city of Al-Raqqah, which has been under the full control of jihadists for about a year. The ISIS 'fighters for the radiant future of Syria' have imposed a per capita tax - jizya - on all Christians who remained in the city after persecutions. According to information on the website of this group, all the non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam will have to pay a tax in gold proportionate to their income. Given today's prices for this metal, the levy will amount to about 1,000 euros per year in money terms," the ministry said.