Turkish officers and officials from the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) met on Wednesday with the leaders of Turkey-backed armed factions of the Islamic Syrian opposition, components of the so-called Syrian National Army (SNA), to raise the issue of forming a new military council and a unified security and political administration in the areas under their control in northern Syria.
The meeting was held in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, and several clan leaders did not attend on Turkish orders.
A military source told the North Press website that the meeting was attended by leaders of the Third Legion, Hayat Thaeroon for Liberation, Al Hamza Brigade (Turkmen) and Sultan Suleiman Shah Brigade (Turkmen).
The source added that Turkey’s call to unify the factions into one military body has been rejected by SNA leaders, due to financial reasons and questioning their absolute authority over the occupied areas under their control in northern Syria.
“Turkish officers proposed to unify military and security formations and create a comprehensive civilian administration in all areas under one control in northern Syria,” according to the source, who added that they were threatened [εάν απορριφθεί η πρόταση] to make Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS- former al-Nusra Front, Syrian Al-Qaeda) the dominant in the region.
Turkish officers did not see the expansion of Tahrir al-Sham in Afrin and other areas in the countryside of Aleppo negatively.
They did not confirm the necessity of expelling Tahrir al-Sham’s general security apparatus from Afrin and its countryside, according to the source.
On October 13, Tahrir Al-Sham took control of Afrin after clashes with the Third Legion, a faction of the Turkish-backed faction known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), forced it to retreat to the city of Azaz and its countryside. .
The clashes ended with Tahrir al-Sham taking control of Kafr Janeh with a partial withdrawal towards Idlib on the condition that the Third Legion does not enter Afrin which remains under Tahrir al-Sham security forces and allied factions.
“The aim of such a body is to continue fighting Kurdish forces and expand Turkey’s border security zone,” the source said, citing Turkish officers.
Due to infighting and factional differences, the leaders of such factions were held responsible for the delay in taking military action against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground and protecting the Turkish border, the source noted.
The source ruled out that the idea could succeed, due to factional differences and a leadership battle among leaders.
However, the creation of such a structure would harm the interests of leaders who earn huge sums of money from border crossings used to smuggle drugs and people in coordination with Syrian government forces and pro-Iranian militias, not to mention lose their positions and their authority in the areas they control, according to the source.
Another meeting is expected to take place next week to discuss more details of the Turkish proposal.