Turkey (Sputnik) – Turkey has ostensibly spent three months training a large rebel force planning to deploy them against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) told Sputnik Turkey on condition of anonymity.
“Turkey is in the process of creating an army manned by the FSA fighters to carry out an operation against the YPG. This force will also be tasked with patrolling the security zone between Jarabulus and Idlib. This training has been ongoing for three months. Turkish special forces have led a training program lasting 45 days in Gaziantep and Kilis. Syrians from Idlib, Aleppo, Damascus and Hama have enrolled in this program. They have freely joined the FSA. These are mostly ethnic Turkmen or Arabs. There are some Kurds as well,” the source said.
The Ankara-trained FSA force is said to consist of 10,000 fighters.
The FSA commander added that those undergoing training receive $300 per month. Turkey also provides them with shelter and food. He did not specify when the program would be over, but said that it is going to happen soon.
The FSA commander named the cities of Manbij, Afrin and Tell Abyad as the primary targets of Turkey’s upcoming operation.
“According to the information we received, Turkey has been engaged in training the FSA to launch an operation in Afrin. Ankara decided to do this after the United States announced that they would arm the YPG. Turkey has chosen Afrin because unlike Kobani and Qamishli there are no US troops in the city. In addition, Turkey wants to capture Azaz, Marea, Idlib and territories to the West of the Jarabulus-Aleppo axis. Ankara wants to link western Aleppo and Idlib. We are awaiting Damascus’ and Russia’s response to these plans,” Chairman of the Syrian Democratic Council Rezan Hiddo told Sputnik Turkey.
Chairman of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) Muslim Mihemed told the news agency that Ankara has created several strongholds in Syria with more on the way.
“During Operation Euphrates Shield Turkey was engaged in combat to the west of Euphrates in the areas close to Azaz, Jarabulus and al-Bab. Turkey has created multiple strongholds to carry out an offensive on a territory between the Turkish town of Silopi and the Iraqi town of Sinjar. Turkey does not want the Kurds to be present in the border region,” he said.
Ankara-led Operation Euphrates Shield was aimed at pushing Daesh out of cities and settlements located on Syria’s border with Turkey. The large-scale military campaign was also aimed at preventing Kurdish forces from moving further west and linking areas they control into a single border region. The Turkish military and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army liberated the cities of al-Bab and Jarabulus as part of the campaign, creating a buffer zone in northern Syria.
Turkey announced the end of its military intervention in March.
This report prepared by Sputnik