What we know about ‘army unit’ Turkey is setting up in northern Syria?

Rebel fighters, part of the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield alliance, advance on February 20, 2017, towards the city of Al-Bab. (AFP)

Turkey is setting up a large group of 10,000-12,000 fighters, comprising members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), to carry out defensive and offensive operations inside Syria, it has come to light.

According to Syrian sources, the move is meant to operate in safe areas set up by Turkey on its border, including the cities of Jarabouls and al-Bab, which the Euphrates Shield forces liberated from ISIS.

The objective of this army, according to media reports, is to counter the Kurdish defense units, and the Democratic Union Party, as well as using FSA fighters to control the security zone from Jarabouls to Idlib.

The group’s composition

Brigadier Asaad al-Zu’bi, the former head of the Syrian opposition delegation revealed to Al-Arabiya Net, the composition of this unit, which will consist of dissident officers currently in Turkey. He pointed out that this unit is different from the First Corps, which was supposed to be established.

“The first legion was the Euphrates Shield with 17 factions. However, as a result of the disagreement of some of these factions with Turkey, especially after what happened in Aleppo, it was decided to convert the Corps to an army that will be shaped by the Euphrates Shield and a group of eight other factions or so,” al-Zu’bi said.

Washington’s green light

He added that Turkey tried to establish the First Legion to be a substitute for the regiment that was aiming to liberate Raqqa but it did not get the green light from Washington.

He said that Syrian officers will be chosen to train the army’s units for 2-3 months and there will be a large budget allocated from the Turkish army to form the nucleus of this army: “The salaries of the fighters will be more than $300”, he added.

Brigadier Asaad al-Zu’bi also noted that there talks are ongoing about a future US role in the army.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
Top