11 militant groups, including Faylaq al-Sham, the Free Idlib Army, the 2nd Coastal Division, the Victory Army and the 37th Regiment, have merged in the Syrian province of Idlib forming a new Turkish backed force.
The newly formed force is entitled Jabhat al-Wataniya lil-Tahrir (the National Front for Liberation). The group is reportedly led by Fadlallah Haji from Faylaq al-Sham. Muhammad Mansour from the Victory Army is allegedly the group’s chief of staff.
According to local observers, the formation of this military group is a part of the Turkish plan to increse its influence in the militant-held parts of the provinces of Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo.
Ankara consolidates control over various Turkish-backed groups and unite them into a unified force in order to challenge the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).
While the Turkish military has contributed little efforts to combat Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib, Turkish leadreship sees this militant group too “independent” and “influential” and would prefer to change this situation.