Beirut – The process of uniting the larger part of Syrian opposition factions in north Syria has been initiated to form a national army with direct support from Turkey, said a prominent opposing military source to Asharq Al-Awsat.
The source said that currently, security leaders and commanders are filling out the forms necessary for their enrollment. He added that the army’s primary goal is to fight against al-Nusra Front in Aleppo’s northern and western countryside.
About a week ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Free Syrian Army should be the national army in Syria. And earlier in September, he hinted to the formation of national army by Syrian opposition in the safe-zone and no-fly zone which Ankara is establishing on its border.
Abu Hatem Sham, a commander of Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield operation, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the national army is a Turkish project that has been put into action about a month ago.
Abu Hatem said the army will include all Free Syrian Army’s factions and Army of Grandchildren will be the basis of this army in charge of the area Euphrates Shield aims to liberate on the Syrian northern border.
In August 24, Turkey launched a wide-ranging military campaign against ISIS in Syria and achieved quick progress. But, since December, the operation had slowed down due to intense fighting in al-Bab city.
Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said Turkey wants a secure strip of territory 10 km (6 miles) deep on the Syrian side of its border, including the town of Azaz, to prevent attempts to “change the demographic structure” of the area.
Sources at Tajamu Fastaqm Kama Amart said that a national army is being formed and is more of an international demand executed by Turkey rather than a proposal suggested by Ankara.
The sources added that international pressures had urged all factions to unite especially now with the new stage in Syria and Astana or Geneva talks.
The sources also confirmed that a meeting will be held soon to discuss the national army and suggest a plan for it, adding that current circumstances are suitable for such a project.