Ankara's attempts to unify militias in the area stem from recent tensions, as well as its fears of losing control over the region

Turkey pushes for new military deals in northern Syria

Soldados turcos patrullan la ciudad kurda siria del norte de Tal Abyad, en la frontera entre Siria y Turquía - AFP/BAKR ALKASEM
Turkish soldiers patrol the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Tal Abyad on the Syrian-Turkish border -AFP/BAKR ALKASEM

Following several protests in northwestern Syria against the Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - an organisation led by the former al-Qaeda branch in Syria - Al-Arab reveals that moves by the so-called "Syrian interim government", an executive that is not internationally recognised, to unify its mercenaries within the so-called "Syrian National Army" are accelerating. This measure, according to the Arab media, is part of the new military agreements promoted by Turkey in northern Syria.  

The Syrian interim government's defence ministry recently called on all independent factions deployed in areas under its control in northern Syria to join the 'Syrian National Army', the Arab media reported.  In a statement, the ministry urged the factions to join the "National Army" in order to improve security in northern Syria

This also comes at a time when the Tahrir al-Sham mercenaries are facing a major crisis related to internal divisions and recent protests that spread across the Idlib and Aleppo areas. However, these demonstrations, mainly directed against the Islamist organisation's leadership, are not new, as citizens in the area have been expressing their rejection of Tahrir al-Sham since they seized the region. 

Due to recent tensions, analysts quoted by Al-Arab believe that Ankara's attempts to unify the militias in the area are due to recent tensions, as well as its fears of losing control over the region. 

Analysts also note that Turkey is trying to distance itself from the crisis facing the Tahrir al-Sham mercenaries, 'reflecting that Ankara is comfortable with what is happening to the group'

Turkish soldiers in northern Syria - PHOTO/FILE

Meanwhile, the interim government's defence ministry warned in its statement that groups refusing to join will be treated as "mercenaries" while media close to the northern Syrian factions claimed that the defence ministry's statement coincided with "tensions between various factions in northern Aleppo" and resignations of militia leaders, such as Hussein Assaf of Al-Shahba Gathering. 

Syria TV - citing Syrian National Army sources - said Assaf's resignation is linked to several developments, including new plans being worked on to restructure the National Army. One of the Syrian sources claimed that this plan could bring down Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham in northern Aleppo by dismantling the blocs that were formed on the basis of the alliance with it and bringing some of the factions of those blocs by officially adopting them into the National Army. 

Turkey tries to distance itself from the crisis facing Hayat Tahrir al-Sham - PHOTO/FILE

The sources also consider Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham to be the biggest loser from the reorganisation in northern Aleppo, recalling that from the middle of last year until now, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham has faced several challenges that have been enough to largely put an end to its presence.  

The organisation began to lose the influence it had gained in Aleppo after the arrest of several of its leaders. The group does not have the capacity to regain this influence, as it is focused on internal disputes and protests