Strike that killed Syrian rebel chief complicates peace talks push, says U.S.

Reuters reports: Russian air strikes like the one that killed a top Syrian rebel leader last week send the wrong message to groups engaged in a political dialogue to end the conflict and complicate efforts to begin negotiations, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

Syrian rebel chief Zahran Alloush, the leader of Jaysh al Islam who commanded thousands of fighters in the Damascus suburbs, was killed on Friday in an air strike that rebel sources said was carried out by Russian warplanes.

Jaysh al Islam was a participant in the Riyadh conference where Syrian opposition groups agreed on common aims for proposed political negotiations to end the country’s civil war and chose a former Syrian prime minister to represent them in the dialogue.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States did not provide support to Alloush’s group and had concerns about its “behavior on the battlefield,” but noted that Jaysh al Islam had fought Islamic State rebels and was participating in the political dialogue to end Syria’s civil war. [Continue reading…]

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