Moscow, February 15, 2016
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the people "who run around with automatic weapons" in Syria "thugs and terrorists" and said that Russia cannot separate them into good and bad.
"Can you actually tell an ISIS or DAESH member from Jaish al-Islam or Jabhat al-Nusra members? Can you tell them apart from the way they look? By their ideology? They can't even tell each other apart [...] They are all thugs and terrorists," Medvedev said in an interview with Time magazine.
"The extent of their religious differences is very, very hypothetical. They wander to and from each other for various reasons: They get paid more somewhere else or somebody falls out with somebody. So it is very difficult for us to separate the moderate from the not-so-moderate and the good from the bad," Medvedev said.
"There is an ideological opposition to Assad. It's necessary to come to terms with these people. They are part of the Syrian elite. They represent another part of the religious spectrum, the Sunni part. However, those who run around with automatic weapons, these are definitely people who earn their living in a totally different way and have other plans," Medvedev said.
"So when I'm told that there is ISIS here but no ISIS there... We remember very well how the Taliban transformed into Al-Qaeda and how Al-Qaeda transformed into something else and how all of this together transformed into the Islamic State. This is the way these people live," Medvedev said.
In this regard, Medvedev said that "today that we are facing a situation where the world will start to be run with so-called terrorist methods." "This is the threat and this is why I believe that religious differences between these extremists are not that important," he said.
ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra are terrorist organizations prohibited in Russia.