After a series of meetings among various Syrian rebel groups in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Russia slammed the talks Saturday, saying they didn’t represent the entire swath of Syrian opposition, Agence France-Presse reported. Russia’s disparagement of the talks between political and armed opposition factions aside, the groups did end up calling for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has Russia's support.
"We cannot agree with an attempt made by the group that gathered in Riyadh to monopolize the right to speak on behalf of the entire Syrian opposition," the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement to AFP.
The two days of talks, ending Thursday, yielded calls among opposition groups for a democratic, all-inclusive Syria, Reuters reported. The groups also came to the conclusion they needed to form an inclusive body during the talks Thursday, which were aimed at ending the civil war that has raged in Syria for more than four years.
The coming together of the groups has been viewed by the opposition supporters as an important bridge for new talks to resolve the conflict, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling the conference an important step forward, the New York Times reported. Leaders from around the world have prepared to meet in New York to find a way to end the Syrian civil war, which has flooded Europe with refugees looking to escape the violence, killed more than 250,000 and facilitated the rise of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
#BREAKING Russia slams Riyadh talks as not representing 'entire Syria opposition'
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) December 12, 2015
Moscow said Friday it supported opposition forces as well as Assad's troops in fighting ISIS forces in Syria, Reuters reported. Russia has said its air force has hit terrorist targets identified by Syrian opposition forces, but Western states striking ISIS forces have said Russia has mostly targeted other rebel groups.