BEIRUT (Reuters) - Delegations from Free Syrian Army rebel groups did not visit Moscow, representatives of four factions fighting under the FSA banner told Reuters on Tuesday, denying Russian news agency reports that such visits had taken place.
Russian Foreign Ministry official Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by Interfax news agency on Tuesday as saying delegations from the Free Syrian Army had visited Moscow several times, including this week, amid heightened diplomacy on Syria.
The Free Syrian Army is a loose alliance of rebel groups, some of them recipients of military support from President Bashar al-Assad’s foreign enemies. It does not operate with a centralized command structure.
“This talk is not correct,” said Ahmed al-Seoud, head of the FSA-affiliated 13th Division group, which operates in areas of western Syria being attacked by Russian warplanes.
The spokesman for Alwiyat Seif al-Sham, an FSA group operating in southern Syria, said: “Nothing of this sort happened on our part as FSA. It is impossible for us to accept going to Moscow, and to have dialogue with it. We don’t want their help.”
“We contacted our friends in other areas and nobody went,” added the spokesman, Abu Ghiath al-Shami.
The main Western-backed political opposition, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, also denied such visits in a statement posted on its website.
“The Syrian Coalition considers these claims a part of the Russian misleading propaganda that aims at diverting attention from failures of the Russian aggression on the Syrian people,” the Turkey-based organization said.
Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Catherine Evans