Syrian Military And Political Opposition: Russian Forces In Syria Are Occupation Forces, We Will Expel Them From Our Country

Following media reports of an intensification of the Russian military presence in Syria, some elements from both the political and military wings of the Syrian opposition clarified that they would consider Russian forces in Syria as “occupation forces” and threatened that they would fight them and strike at them until they expelled from Syrian soil. They said that they will transform Syria into “a graveyard for the Russian forces” and stressed that Russian forces in Syria would have no sense of and that Russia would sustain a severe defeat.

In the field, the Islamist rebel group Jaysh Al-Islam announced, on September 18, 2015, that its forces had fired a Grad missile at a Russian plane near Latakia, damaging it. A few days later, on September 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that shells had been fired at the Russian Embassy in Damascus, but that no damage was caused. The ministry claimed that the firing had come from Damascus’ Jobar neighborhood “where there are armed [elements] who oppose the regime” who have “external sponsors” that are responsible for their activity.[1] So far, no opposition group has taken responsibility for the shelling. It should be noted that this is not the first time that shells have been fired at the embassy; there were similar incidents in April and May 2015.

This report will review reactions to and threats against the Russian military presence in Syria:

Armed Syrian Opposition: We Will Target Russian Forces

FSA Spokesman: We Will Turn Syria Into A Graveyard For Russian Forces And A Second Afghanistan

First to respond to reports that Russia had increased its military presence in Syria was the armed opposition in Syria. The spokesman for the general command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Colonel Mustafa Farhat, called this a dangerous development, and warned: “We will see any Russia soldier setting foot on Syrian soil as [an act of] occupation and aggression by Russia. We will fight them with all our might to our last breath… The FSA and the rebels will turn Syria into a graveyard for the Russians and a second Afghanistan, ending their fairy tales, their arrogance, and their cockiness that have in recent years inflicted disasters on the Syrian people because of their support for Assad.” Farhat also called on Turkey, the Gulf countries, and the international community to prevent Russia from becoming further involved in Syria.[3]

Jaysh Al-Islam: We Struck Russian Plane Near Latakia; Russian Forces Will Not Feel Secure

The Islamist rebel group Jaysh Al-Islam reported on September 18, 2015 that it had fired a Grad rocket that struck and badly damaged a Russian transport plane carrying state-of-the-art tanks at the Humaymim Naval Airbase. It also claimed to have targeted the military seaport in Latakia. A statement by the group read: “We announce today that we have hit the Al-Bassel [Humaymim] Airbase, which has become a Russian military base, and we promise that our enemies will not feel secure as long as our people do not feel secure.” According to the group, it fired the rocket after receiving reports of unusual activity by the pro-regime Shabiha militias and Russian officers in those areas.[4]

Prominent Syrian Oppositionist: The Russians Have Come To Fight The FSA; We Will Oppose The Russian Invader And Expel Him From Our Land

“We all knew that Russian intervention would complicate our problems. [and would] create a political and possibly strategic environment, having international consequences that would likely extend our conflict and nourish it on content that contradicts our focus and national interests – and that it could bring about the deaths of more of our citizens…

“Before Putin invaded our country, it seemed as though there was a search [by the international community] for elements that preferred a political solution to a military one. But after the invasion, the picture changed, and we Syrians are left with no option but to oppose the invaders and expel them from our homeland.”[6]

Syrian Muslim Brotherhood: Russia Will Become A Direct Target; Its Forces Face A Worse Fate Than Afghanistan And Chechnya

In a harsh communique, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) stated that Russia had become an occupier and a partner in war crimes, and that it would be directly targeted by Syrians defending their country: “Russian military activity has recently begun in the heart of Syrian soil, making makes this permanent member of the Security Council an occupier and direct partner to war crimes and crimes against humanity…

Full article: Syrian Military And Political Opposition: Russian Forces In Syria Are Occupation Forces, We Will Expel Them From Our Country (MEMRI)

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