The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) redeployed more than 400 former fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from the northern Homs countryside to positions around the northern governorate of Idlib, the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi reported on August 25.
According to the pro-opposition news outlet, the fighters, who were once a part of the al-Tawhid Army, are now fighting among the ranks of the elite Tiger Forces.
The al-Tawhid Army was backed by Saudi Arabia and has strong relations with Firas Tlass, a UAE-based Syrian businessman and an opposition figure. Last week, Syrian opposition activists leaked an audio message of Tlass, in which he threatens the remaining militants in northern Syria with an “invasion” if they don’t join the reconciliation process.
Two days ago, Enab Baladi reported that the UAE-backed commander Ahmad al-Awdah and 500 of his fighters will participate in the upcoming military operation of the SAA and its allies in northern Syria. Al-Awdah signed a reconciliation agreement with the Damascus government last month, under which his group, Shabab al-Sunnah, became a part of the Russian-backed 5th Assault Corps.
These developments hints that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are interested in neutralizing the remaining militants in northern Syria. The reason behind this interest could be that these militants are linked to Turkey, which is challenging the influence of both countries in the Arab world.