Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
Groups inside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces are involved in internal conflict, Turkish sources have admitted, amid reports that Turkish-backed rebels fought with each other in the Syrian town of al-Bab, leaving several dead and scores injured.
“The components of the Free Syrian Army are clashing with each other in al-Bab, which was liberated by Turkey,” a Turkish security source confirmed to daily Hürriyet.
“Just after the Raqqa operation that was undertaken by the U.S. with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which is a Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), the clashes around al-Bab intensified at the start of the Qatar crisis,” an official information note from the government said regarding the recent fighting.
“There is contradictory information about the number of dead and injured. But the accurate information received by Turkish authorities indicates that 33 people have died and 55 have been wounded in the clashes within the FSA,” it added.
The confirmation came after international news organizations reported clashes within opposition groups including the Sultan Murad Division and the Ahrar al-Sham. The heavy clashes have accelerated in recent days, Reuters reported on June 11.
“Rebel infighting has been a major weakness of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule since its earliest days, with the rebel factions divided by both ideology and local power struggles,” Reuters reported.
The information note stated that the split in the FSA was triggered by the diplomatic crisis over Qatar for concerns over “financial resources.”
“There are significant indications of a split within the FSA over the lack of financial resources. A group of 60-70 people, including high-ranking officials in the Sultan Murad Division, joined the regime’s forces. There are also a few numbers joining the YPG,” it said.
“The rumors stating that ‘with the Qatar incident, the flow of money will end. Kurds and regime powers will have a say in the future of Syria’ spread quite seriously,” the note stated indicating that “there is speculation that over 100 groups will join Syrian regime forces in the following days.”