General Salmin Idris, the leader of the Free Syria Army (FSA) , called Vladimir Putin a terrorist today after the Russian president said that allegations of a August 21 chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus was a “provocation” by Syrian rebels.
“President Putin is lying,” Gen. Idriss told Fox News. “He knows exactly that the regime is killing our citizens … and is using Russian weapons and ammunition, tanks, [and] Scud missiles to destroy all the liberated areas. This man, President Putin, is a terrorist. And he is trying now to deceive the international community.”
The actions of both men provide context to the controversial statements.
Russia has staunchly backed Assad in numerous ways during the 29-month conflict, and Putin has denied each reported chemical attack or blamed them on the rebels.
Idris has said that the FSA’s top priority is getting weapons for the West as well as “stopping the aerial bombardment but also the importation of weapons and military personnel from Russia and Iran.”
That is precisely what a U.S. strike could accomplish, which is one reason why Putin is working to prevent it.
Idriss has also been overseeing the Syrian opposition’s “southern strategy,” which involves bolstering Western-vetted troops with Saudi weapons around Damascus as reported by Interpreter Magazine Editor-in-Chief Michael D. Weiss.
Weiss notes that the towns integral to this FSA buildup “are located in Eastern Ghouta district,” which was gassed on August 21 and has been gassed before.