Syrian opposition preparing provocation to discredit Russia as key mediator in the talks - military diplomatic source

Countries that are allies of the Syrian opposition will attempt to stage a provocative act using people of Slavic descent with the aim of discrediting Russia as a key mediator in the talks, a military diplomatic source told Interfax-AVN on Friday.

"Today representatives of structures interested in deposing the current Syrian regime are recruiting people of Slavic descent - citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, who will have to play the role of Russian "mercenaries", who allegedly fought on the side of [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad and were allegedly taken captive by soldiers of the so-called Syrian Liberation Army," the source said.

"These "mercenaries" are supposed to "testify" before TV cameras regarding "Russian special services' " involvement in recruiting them and sending them from Russia to Syria on board warships," he said.

"There are plans to film this footage in Turkey or Jordan, where a large-scale fake set depicting allegedly destroyed Syrian towns was built a long time ago and has been used actively for misinformation purposes," the source said.

"As far as candidates are concerned, men of Slavic descent aged 25-45, who know what military service means, are preferably familiar with air defense systems and know how to handle weapons are in high demand," he said.

Russia was previously accused of supporting the Syrian president in the United Nations, after which the Western media were awash with reports about exports of Russian weapons to Syria, including Iskander missile systems, the source said.

British newspaper The Guardian reported in late December that Russian naval ships had been sent to Syria, allegedly carrying both weapons, military specialists who would operate and maintain Russian-made air defense systems, as well as soldiers of Main Intelligence Department special operations units.

"The ultimate goal of these provocations will be accusing Russia of direct involvement in the conflict and stripping it of its role as a mediator in the negotiations on the Syrian issue," the source said.

"All this will allow certain countries in the West and the Middle East to create the environment needed to depose Bashar al-Assad," he said.

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