The US Department of State said Monday that the Russian air raids, such as the one killed a top rebel leader in Syria, are sending a wrong message to the groups participating in a political dialogue that aims to end the conflict.
Zahran Alloush, the leader of Jaish Al-Islam, was killed Friday in the suburbs of Damascus, alleged by Russian aircrafts, according to opposition sources. The Syrian regime however said it carried out this operation based on information from the Syrian intelligence.
Jaish Al-Islam was one of the Syrian opposition groups that participated in the Riyadh meeting aiming to unite the opposition as a step towards holding negotiations with the Syrian regime.
Those groups chose the former Syrian prime minister Riyadh Hegab to represent them in the negotiations.
Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department Mark Toner said the US did not support Jaish Al- Islam and looked to it suspiciously on the ground, “but [that] it has participated in fighting the Islamic State (IS) and in the peace dialogue”.
“Attacking Alloush and other opposition groups will complicate the efforts aiming to start serious political negotiations and ceasefire in the entire country… we need to achieve progress in the next few weeks,” Toner said.
“Carrying out such raids does not send the most positive message,” he continued, noting that the US does not wish to delay any progress in negotiations.
UN envoy to Syria Staffan di Mistura plans to gather representatives of both the government and the regime in peace talks in Geneva on 25 January 2016.
Di Mistura urged all sides to participate and not allow the latest developments on the ground to prevent them from achieving peace.
Mohammad Bassam Al-Malek, a member of National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, previously told Daily News Egypt that the incident will result in the suspension of any negotiations with the regime. “Alloush accepted the political solution and participated in the Riyadh meeting. After what happened to him we will reject any negotiations with the regime,” he said.
He further urged the UN to move towards ending the air raids. “If the UN does not condemn killing civilians, we will freeze negotiations,” Al-Malek said.
Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Syrian former brigadier Ali Maqsud conversely said he believes the killing of Alloush will have a positive impact on the negotiation process. “This successful operation targeted a meeting between the terror groups that were aiming to start cooperation after the success achieved by the Syrian army,” he said.
According to Maqsud, there is divergence inside Jaish Al- Islam and the meeting aimed to bring them together before the Syrian army targeted it.
Regarding whether Jaish Al- Islam is considered a moderate opposition group, he said: “They were never moderate and all the shells that targeted Damascus were launched by this group.”
Political analyst Charles Lister said on Twitter that this incident is powerful blow to the opposition. “Zahran Alloush’s death stands as one of the most significant opposition losses of the revolution,” he said.