Mohammed Alloush, the political leader of the Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) has been named the chief negotiator in upcoming peace talks to be held by the UN in Geneva.
Jaysh al-Islam is considered a radical terrorist group by both the Syrian government and Russia.
On Wednesday Riad Hijab, the head of the Supreme Commission for Negotiations, announced that Alloush was appointed as the chief negotiator. Riad Hijab formerly served as Prime Minister of Syria from 2011-2012 until he defected and traveled to various Gulf states.
Jaysh al-Islam control the areas of eastern Damascus and its previous leader Zahran Alloush had announced his loyalty and admiration to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and even called for the deaths of all Shi’ites.
Mr Hijab warned that the committee would not accept any attempts by foreign parties to “inject individuals in the form of a so-called third delegation, justifying their presence under unfounded pretexts merely to disrupt the political process and prolong the fighting in the name of combating terrorism”.
The former prime minister also said that the opposition could not negotiate while Syrians “suffer from shelling, starvation and siege” by government forces.
“Dates are not sacred,” he added. “Debased political bartering at the expense of the Syrian people is tantamount to callous extortion which we will not accept under any circumstance.”
“We hope the negotiating process will begin this month,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to reporters. “I stress that this will be just the start, because of course it will take a lot of time, a whole range of arduous tasks are to be resolved.”
Jaysh al-Islam have been responsible for the indiscriminate shelling of Damascus and kidnapping citizens for extortion money.