Moscow requests UN to add ISIS-linked groups to official terror list, legitimize attacks on them

A Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) militant. © Amer Almohibany
Russia has officially requested the UN to sanction and delegitimize two militant groups – Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam – who are known to have close links to ISIS and Al-Qaeda and “regularly” violate and sabotage the Russia-US-brokered Syrian ceasefire.

The Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has submitted Moscow’s request to the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) Tuesday, asking to add Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam to the list of the so-called “1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.”

According to Churkin the reason “for this step was the evidence that these organizations, fighting in Syria, are closely linked to terrorist organizations, first of all Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Qaeda, and provide and receive from them financial, material, technical and military support.”

Groups listed by the UN as terrorist organizations are not included in the Russia-US brokered ceasefire in Syria, and can still be attacked.

Should Russia’s move be supported by all members of the UN Security Council, Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, fighting government forces in Syria, will not be part of the truce, which was meant to pave the way to reconciliation between the Syrian government and moderate rebel forces.

“As of now, in conditions of regular violations of the Syrian ceasefire by Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam groups, the Russian side has decided to resume the progress of our application for including these organizations under the sanctions regime,” Churkin said, adding that Moscow started working on its request several months ago, but paused in order not to “interrupt the peace process and the dialogue,” which are not moving along easily.

Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said that Russia wanted groups sabotaging the Syrian cease-fire to be put on the UN terror list, citing evidence it had received through its sources.

Lavrov also mentioned that Moscow had wanted them to be put on the terrorist list from the start, but had, as part of a compromise measure, agreed to hold off on demanding it.

On April 22, Churkin told TASS news agency that the process to add more militant groups to the terrorist list was not an easy one, stressing that it does take some time.

“All members [of the UN Security Council] should agree,” he said. “There needs to be a consensus.”