Russia is arming Assad’s opponents to fight ISIS

Putin - Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin disclosed he is providing arms for the rebels opposing his Syrian ally Bashar al- Assad, so they can help take on Islamic State (ISIS).

Putin has proved that nothing will stop him to wipe out the jihadis after admitting for the first time he is giving the Free Syrian Army weapons.

He is also providing air cover and ammunition to the fighters, as he tries to unite warring sides in the fight against Daesh, notes The Express.

According to Western and Arab states, Russian jets have mainly hit the rebel forces in western Syria, rather than ISIS targets.

The Russian president told an annual meeting at the Russian defense ministry that on Russian planes were assisting “in uniting the efforts of government troops and the Free Syrian Army”.

“Now several of its units numbering over 5,000 troops are engaged in offensive actions against terrorists, alongside regular forces, in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa. We support it from the air, as well as the Syrian army, we assist them with weapons, ammunition and provide logistics.”, said Putin.

However, the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that the influence of the Islamic State has been increasing in Syria, where militants control roughly 70 % of the country.

Last month, the Russian air force had hit several “terrorist” targets identified by the Free Syrian Army.

A spokesman from the US State Department has said that it is ‘unclear’ to him whether the FSA’s claims are true, and the majority of Russian air strikes had targeted groups opposed to Assad.

British Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said: “What they’ve got to do is stop propping up the Assad regime, stop bombing opposition groups who are opposed to the Assad regime … and get behind the political process that is now under way of leading that country to a more pluralist government and a future without Assad.”

Putin said that strikes by Russia’s air force and navy had had a big effect on the infrastructure of the Islamic State.