During a meeting at the U.N. Security Council’s 15-member committee, Britain, the United States, France and Ukraine blocked a Russian proposal to blacklist the Syrian Islamist groups, Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam.
These two Islamist groups make up approximately half the manpower of the armed Syrian Opposition.
The Kremlin considers both militias to be terrorist organizations and has repeatedly targeted their fighters since Russia began its air campaign in late September, 2015.
Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam fight overtly alongside Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria; however, their leadership denies having ties to al-Qaeda itself.
Nevertheless, the founder of Ahrar ash-Sham, a man called Abu Khalid al-Suri, underwent training in Afghanistan and has been depicted with Osama Bin Laden himself.
The U.N. Security Council has already blacklisted the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra but has otherwise proven reluctant to add other militias to the list of terrorist organizations.
Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham were the main representatives of the High Negotiations Committee (Syrian Opposition) at the Geneva peace talks.
The High Negotiation Committee is backed by Western nations and Gulf states, thus explaining their unwillingness to blacklist the Islamist militias.