Free Syrian Army scales up preparations for Turkish operations

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 14.12.2018 02:03
Updated 14.12.2018 08:00

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has ramped up its preparations for a Turkish military offensive to the east of Euphrates, stressing that it is ready to provide support in the operation.

Although FSA units have been preparing for a possible operation in Syria for some time now, Turkey has also reportedly given signals to the group recently to be ready for the announced operation while sending Turkish military equipment along the Syrian border at the same time.

According to reports, the Hamza Brigade, which is a part of the FSA, has been continuing its efforts to support the upcoming operation of the Turkish military in the opposition-held northern district of Azaz.

According to Reuters, up to 15,000 Syrian opposition fighters are ready to join a Turkish military offensive against the YPG.

The spokesman for the National Army, a Turkish-backed opposition force aimed at unifying disparate factions in northwest Syria, said yesterday that there was no set date for the operation, which will start from both Syrian and Turkish territory.

"The battle will be launched simultaneously from several fronts," Maj. Youssef Hamoud told Reuters.

"It will be in Manbij and Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn," he said, referring to towns about 200 kilometers apart near Syria's northern border.

Hamoud said the operation from Turkey may begin a few days before the move from within Syria.

Previously, one of the commanders of the brigade, Seyf Ebu Bekir, said last month that the objective of the operation would be to clear the region of terrorists and to prevent civilian casualties. "We do not have any problems with our Kurdish brothers living there. We will save them from terror's oppression," he underlined.

National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Chairman Abdurrahman Mustafa also tweeted yesterday that, "Free Syrians will restore peace and defeat terrorism in their countries."

Another FSA commander reiterated support for Turkey's operation on Nov. 30, explaining that the People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorist organization, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, uses the fight against Daesh as a pretext for maintaining its presence in Syria, while stressing that they are ready to launch an operation in regions such as Tal Abyad, Raqqa and Hasaka "where Daesh does not exist."

"Preparations are already underway; we have many well-trained fighters. Our military training is ongoing," Ahmed Osman, a commander in the Sultan Murad Brigade of the FSA, told Anadolu Agency (AA), referring to a possible military operation east of the Euphrates.

The commander of the Sultan Murad Brigade further underlined that the only problem is the existence of U.S. forces in the region. Osman added, "I'm hoping the U.S. withdraws and the Turkish army backed by the FSA expels the PKK from areas east of the river, where it is pretending to be fighting Daesh."

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