On September 9, five of Turkey’s largest proxy groups in Syria unified in a new coalition dubbed the Syrian Front for Liberation (SFL).
The groups, the Mu’tasim Division, the Hamzah Division, the Suleyman Shah Division, the 20th Division and the Northern Hawks Brigade, announced the formation of the SFL in a ceremony attended by their top leaders.
Mu’tasim al-Abbas, leader of the Mu’tasim Division, will lead the SFL. His deputy will be Sayf Abu Bakr, leader of the Hamzah Division.
More than 15,000 fighters will operate under the command of the new coalition in the Turkish-occupied parts of the northern al-Hasakah countryside, the northern Raqqa countryside, the eastern Aleppo countryside and the northern Aleppo countryside.
“Full integration, ending the factional situation and unifying the military – security – political – financial – media – relations offices in the name of the Syrian Liberation Front aims to improve the general situation and impose security as well as to support stability in the liberated areas, strengthen the role of official institutions and empower the Syrian Interim Government,” a joint statement by the SFL’s five factions reads.
Three of the SFL’s factions, the Hamzah Division, Suleyman Shah Division and Northern Hawks Brigade, defected very recently from the Azm Operations Room which was formed by Turkish-backed groups in northern Aleppo last July.
All the factions of the SFL and Azm are supposed to be members of the Syrian National Army. The Turkish-backed “army,” which lacks central command and clear structure, appears to be present only in the media.
The SFL was likely established to counter the growing influence of the Azm Operations Room. The two Turkish-backed coalitions appear to be on the brink of a conflict.
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