BEIRUT - Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels fighting President Bashar Assad in western Syria denied receiving any support from the Russian air force, saying that on the contrary it continued to bomb them and rejecting comments by a top Russian general on Monday.
A separate, recently formed alliance of armed groups - including some that identify themselves as FSA - said its fighters had benefited indirectly from Russian air strikes during a recent battle with insurgents including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, but denied any direct Russian support.
The groups were responding to comments by a senior Russian army general who said the Russian air force was conducting dozens of air strikes in Syria on a daily basis to support Free Syrian Army fighters who he said were fighting alongside government troops against Islamic State militants.
Russian news agencies quoted Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russian army's general staff, as saying the number of Free Syrian Army units was "rising all the time".
"They are also provided with weapons, ammunition and material support," he said, echoing a statement made by President Vladimir Putin on Friday.