On March 6, Tahir al-Omar, an infamous propagandist of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), confirmed that work is undergoing to establish a military council and a “defense ministry” in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib.
The military council will unify HTS and the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL). The “Defense Ministry” will be established by HTS’ Salvation Government to oversee the work of the council.
“We ask God to complete the arrangement and unification of military efforts in the liberated areas and to form a Ministry of Defense led by an elite of commanders and experts,” al-Omar wrote on his Telegram channel.
According to the Istanbul-based Jusoor for Studies, the military council will have 34 brigades and will be co-chaired by a commander of HTS and two from the NFL.
The military council will be for sure dominated and led by HTS, as it will operate in Greater Idlib under the banner of its puppet government.
When the Salvation Government was first formed by HTS in 2017, the US warned the Syrian opposition against dealing with it. Despite the warning, Turkish-backed factions maintained an unbalanced relation with HTS.
Over the last three years, HTS harassed and attacked NFL factions on several occasions. Yet, they continue to operate under its indirect command against government forces.
Turkey is reportedly backing the plan to form the military council and the defense ministry in Greater Idlib. This plan is meant to whitewash HTS and its puppet government in order to legitimize their rule over the region.
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