Russia does not consider the Free Syrian Army (FSA) a terrorist group, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference in New York, Thursday. Speaking on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Lavrov added "we believe that the Free Syrian Army should be part of the political process like some other armed groups on the ground, composed of Syrian patriotic opposition individuals." He also drew attention to the fact that the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) is still not officially declared a terrorist organisation by the UN and that the US is opposing to do so, saying they are part of al-Qaeda - a view Russian does not share. Commenting on the coordination of Russian military actions with the US-led coalition, Lavrov said the coalition is conducting airstrikes on Syrian soil without a credible legal basis. Lavrov said "the legal basis of the coalition's activities in Syria is really flawed. You cannot operate without a Security Council mandate, you cannot operate without consent of the country in question." He expressed doubt regarding the coalition's justification of 'preventive self-defence.' "If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist - it's a terrorist, right? I would recall that we always were saying that we're going to fight ISIL and other terrorist group. This is the same position which the Americans are taking," Lavrov concluded. The FM's statements come shortly after Russia has launched several airstrikes on alleged Islamic State positions close the towns of Hama, Homs, Idlib, Al-Latamna since Wednesday.
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