UPDATE: In the evening of August 1, the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL), the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) and the Suqour al-Sham Brigades as well as small groups – Jaysh al-Ahrar and Damascus Gathering – merged into a new faction.
The new group will use the name of the National Front for Liberation but this is a de-facto new faction.
The Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL), the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) and the Suqour al-Sham Brigades are planning to merge their forces in order to form a new armed group in the northern governorate of Idlib, the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi reported on August 1.
According to the pro-opposition news outlet, officials of the three groups are now in talks to organize the unification process. Turkey is reportedly pressuring the three groups to unify away from the former branch of al-Qaeda, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
A week earlier, Syrian opposition sources said that most of the armed groups in Idlib have a new operations room to fend off any possible attack of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies on the governorate. However, HTS was among the key founders of the operations room, opposite to Turkey’s will.
Turkish activists said that the NFL, the SLF and the Suqour al-Sham Brigades will announce their merge soon. In this case, HTS will likely view the new group as threat to its influence in northern Syria and work to eliminate it.