Ankara vows full support for FSA in Syria

Ankara vows full support for FSA in Syria

Ankara vows full support for FSA in Syria

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Ankara has vowed to support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with regards to the Turkey-backed rebels’ efforts to clear their own lands in northern Syria of both jihadists and Syrian Kurdish forces. 

“Those lands [in northern Syria] are the lands of these people [FSA fighters]. These people are on the defensive for their own land; they see Turkey’s support as very crucial. We give them this support and we will continue to give [support], too,” said Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık on Sept. 21.

Işık said that their aim was for the FSA to clear land belonging to its people from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and also the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara says are terrorist offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Everyone should live in their own region,” Işık said. 

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24, with its own troops backing the FSA with the aim of ridding northern Syria, with which Turkey has a long border, of ISIL, as well as the PYD and YPG.

Turkey helped liberate Syria’s Jarablus and al-Rai from ISIL within the scope of this operation. 

On Sept. 19, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said al-Bab was the next target within the scope of the anti-ISIL operation that Turkey launched around one month ago.

Al-Bab lies around 30 kilometers away from the Elbeyli district of Turkey’s Kilis province. 

Responding to a question with regards to a report that Turkey would deploy its own combatant infantries of the Turkish Land Forces in Syria, Işık said Turkey would not deploy its own infantry in Syria but would use the Ankara-backed Syrian rebels. 

“Our current planning is that we will conduct the operation with fighters of the Free Syrian Army. Thus, we do not plan to join this operation with our own infantries,” Işık said. 

Işık said on Sept. 21 that Turkey would continue with the operation “until it guarantees its own security,” adding that Ankara’s aspiration was for the FSA and the “moderate opposition” to clear out ISIL and the YPG.
Forces taking part in Operation Euphrates Shied with the aim to liberate al-Bab would be enforced with the inclusion of various combatant infantries, which would accompany Turkish Special Forces and artillery, daily Hürriyet reported on Sept. 21, citing security sources speaking on condition of anonymity. 

“In order to go down as far as al-Bab, a more extensive land force is a must. Land forces are included in the operation plans,” the source was quoted as saying. Currently Turkish Special Forces commandos, fighter jets and tanks contribute to Operation Euphrates Shield.