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Turkey Establishes ‘New Free Syrian Army’ in Northern Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Free Syrian Army member fighting in Syria. (AP/File)

Beirut- Syrian opposition sources said on Saturday Turkey has amended its plan in northern Syria by seeking to establish a “new Free Syrian Army” that maintains security in the opposition-controlled areas in the north.

Under Turkey’s plan, the new forces would later join the “Syrian National Army” ranks and limit Ankara’s military intervention at the Syrian border, the sources said.

Sources from Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam confirmed those reports to Asharq Al-Awsat, saying Turkey is currently training around 10,000 fighters, most of whom fight in the ranks of the Euphrates Shield operation that terminated its mission last March.

Also, Anadolu news agency reported that Turkish Special Forces are training those groups in using weapons near the border with Turkey.

The agency said new members and old FSA members are trained on using mortars, rocket launchers and machine guns.

Anadolu said the training was stepped up after Ankara declared in March the end of the first phase of its military operation with FSA against ISIS and Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

The agency quoted an unidentified military official as saying that “a new FSA army is being born. These FSA members in training will show their difference in possible future operations.”

Meanwhile, Syrian regime forces and their allied Iranian militias advanced on the Damascus-Baghdad highway in the Syrian desert area near the Iraqi border in a clear confrontation with the International Coalition.

The advance came 48 hours after Coalition warplanes pounded and destroyed a convoy of Syrian regime forces and Iranian-backed militias advancing towards the crossing of al-Tanf where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Iraq meet.

Coalition forces had clearly warned regime members from getting near its positions in the area, while a strategic expert saw that “Tehran, which fears cutting the Baghdad-Damascus road, is using weapons to test the US military intervention on the ground.”