BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – Turkey is creating a new “national army” that is composed of several Syrian rebel factions, a new report alleged.
According to the report, the initiative is meant to thwart the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) upcoming offensive inside the Idlib Governorate.
The new force will be allegedly composed of approximately 35,000 fighters from various rebel factions across the Idlib Governorate, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Jabhat Tahrir Souriya.
There was no mention regarding the future of the jihadist rebel groups like Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP).
Turkish support for the group has included the regular payment of salaries, as well as the setting up of 12 military outposts, concentrated in the northern province of Idlib. Ankara has reportedly also invested in local infrastructure, including the building of local schools.
The leader of the rebel coalition, Colonel Haitham Afisi has been quoted as listing the three main enemies of his ‘army’: President Bashar al-Assad, Daesh, and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
It is believed that Turkey’s support for the nascent group stems largely from its opposition to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit’s (YPG), which it sees as an extension of the PKK, whom have waged an intermittent campaign of guerrilla warfare inside Turkey since the late 1970s.