In an interview with SputnikNews, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev asserted the following:
The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces are in Syria at the request of the legal authorities of the country. Our goal is to help the Syrian people rid their country of ISIS [Islamic State] militants, not create a new war there. Iran, with which we are coordinating, is also helping Syria at the request of its government. And that’s the kind of coordination we are offering everyone who is ready to stand up against Daesh (Islamic State/IS/ISIS/ISIL), including the patriotic opposition, the Free Syrian Army.
Even though the proponents of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are adamant that the group forms a legitimate and moderate opposition, this claim has been discredited years ago. Indeed, the FSA are terrorists and their massacres have been widely documented throughout the war on Syria (check the references at the end of the article). In addition, it seems that the FSA has become a ghost, as many officers from the group have been reported to defect to ISIS, proving once more that the ‘moderate rebel’ vs ‘terrorist’ distinction perpetuated by many alike is void.
This distinction ploy was carefully orchestrated. Firstly, the Western media was slow and reluctant in condemning the FSA. Secondly, the Western media, alongside that many other non-Western media channels, focused solely on ISIS ever since the group “separated” from Al-Qaeda in 2014. This well-calculated distinction, which seems to be also made by Medvedev, is extremely dangerous for a myriad of reasons. Most importantly, it goes against what the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been doing for the past 5 years.
In combating terrorism, the SAA first, and later on its closest allies, never distinguished between the FSA and ISIS, or any other terrorist group, as all factions terrorized the Syrian people, sold its oil, massacred its people, destroyed its ruins, demolished its infrastructure, amongst many other atrocities.
There are no friends in wars, only allies. And allies have specific priorities in term of strategic interests, which are prone to change with time. No country would, or should, set itself on fire to protect an ally. For example, Russia would never bomb Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Israel, as many people have ‘hoped’. Hope has no place in geo-political decisions.
It is then time for us to use critical thinking in analyzing the strategy-making of Russia and other allies. Hyping up an ally, without being critical of it, is precarious as it will lead to mindlessly following said ally, ultimately acting against our own strategic interests.
A reference list, mainly documenting FSA crimes as reported by both Western and non-Western media:
1) How The Free Syrian Army Became A Largely Criminal Enterprise: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-free-syrian-army-became-a-largely-criminal-enterprise-2013-11?IR=T
2) War crimes by Syrian rebels must be condemned too: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/10/human-rights-abuses-syrias-regime-condemned
3) The Dark Side of the Free Syrian Army: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-wagner/dark-side-free-syrian_b_2380399.html
4) Free Syrian Army war crime – shoots unarmed civilians – graphic content: http://humanrightsinvestigations.org/2012/11/15/free-syrian-army-war-crime-shoots-unarmed-civilians/
5) Don’t underestimate Free Syrian Army: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/10/syria-fsa-isis-media-coverage-palmyra-101-divison.html
6) Syria: Atrocities Committed by US-NATO Sponsored “Opposition”. Executioner for Syria’s “Rebels” Tells His Story: http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-atrocities-committed-by-us-nato-sponsored-opposition-executioner-for-syria-s-rebels-tells-his-story/30072
7) Massacres in Aleppo by Western-armed “Free Syrian Army”: http://www.globalresearch.ca/massacres-in-aleppo-by-western-armed-free-syrian-army/32205
8) Houla massacre carried out by Free Syrian Army, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/06/syri-j13.html