VIDEO: UK, US, France Block Russia’s Bid to Blacklist Syria Terrorist Groups

Wed May 11, 2016 15:25:02

Britain, France, the United States and Ukraine have reportedly blocked Russia’s request to add two Syrian militant groups to a UN terror blacklist and sideline them from the Syrian peace process.

The four members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday blocked Russia’s request that the so-called Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) and Ahrar al-Sham terrorist groups be added to the sanctions list for their ties to al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIS / ISIL) militant groups.

Adding names to the UN sanctions list requires a consensus decision from the 15-member council.

“Russia publicly attempting to designate groups that are parties to the cessation of hostilities could have damaging consequences to the cessation just as we are trying to de-escalate the situation on the ground,” said a spokesperson for the US mission to the United Nations.

“Now is not the time to shift course, but rather double-down on our efforts toward a reduction in violence,” the US official said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Security Council diplomat said blacklisting the two groups would be “seriously counter-productive, damaging both efforts to maintain the cessation of hostilities and resume peace negotiations in Geneva.”

The UN official said that isolating the militants groups from the mainstream opposition would result in a more hardline stance and drive them away from the search for a political settlement.

“It would provide a pretext for yet more moderate areas to come under target,” he said.

Jaish al-Islam is a member of the so-called opposition group High Negotiations Committee (HNC) which is in peace talks with the Damascus government.

Moscow did not comment directly on the rejection of its bid at the UN, but it warned that Russia still considers any opposition group that collaborates with the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front to be a fair target for Russian and Syrian forces.

“Those forces of the Syrian opposition that demonstrate a sober approach, that stand for Syria's territorial integrity, and are ready to take part in the political process in the interests of the nation must completely dissociate themselves from Jabhat al-Nusra,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

The development comes as Moscow said on Tuesday that the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) would meet in Vienna, Austria, on May 17 to try to get peace efforts back on track.

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