- Title: Syrian rebels vow to back any Turkish operation into northeast
- Date: 4th October 2019
- Summary: SANLIURFA, TURKEY (OCTOBER 4, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** MEMBERS OF TURKEY-BACKED SYRIAN OPPOSITION ENTERING ROOM FOR NEWS CONFERENCE ATTENDEES SEATED FOR NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TURKEY-BACKED SYRIAN OPPOSITION OFFICIAL, SALIM IDRIS, SAYING: "These are Syrian lands and it is our duty to give people back their rights and this section of dear Syrian land. Our Turkish brothers support us in this battle and we stand in full force in support of our Turkish brothers in fighting all forms of terrorism represented by the PKK and the PYD gangs." NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN OPPOSITION'S HEAD OF INTERIM GOVERNMENT, ABDULRAHMAN MUSTAFA, SAYING: "After great efforts between the national army and the National Liberation Front and the leaders of their units and formations, we announce today the merger of the National Army and the National Liberation Front under the banner of one army working in accordance to military principles under the ministry of defence for the temporary Syrian government. This army will act to free this country from suppression, sectarianism, dictatorship." ATTENDEES LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN OPPOSITION'S HEAD OF INTERIM GOVERNMENT, ABDULRAHMAN MUSTAFA, SAYING: "As many know, our people in the area of the eastern Euphrates have been targeted by the worst kind of crimes that have burned their homes and forced them to leave their lands and it is our duty to lift them out of this injustice and for this we support Turkey's efforts in fighting terrorism and on the occasion of the establishment of our army, we extend our thanks to all who have stood with the Syrian people." VARIOUS OF END OF NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 18th October 2019 14:58
- Keywords: Syrian opposition interim government National Army National Liberation Front merge Turkey syria
- Location: SANLIURFA, TURKEY
- City: SANLIURFA, TURKEY
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA001AZOMXQF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Turkey-backed Syrian rebels pledged on Friday (October 4) to back a potential cross-border offensive that Ankara has threatened to mount against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.
Ankara and Washington have agreed to set up a zone in northeast Syria along the border with Turkey, which wants to expel the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from the frontier.
Turkey has accused the United States, which helped the YPG defeat Islamic State militants, of moving too slowly to establish the zone. The two countries are also at odds over how far it should extend into Syria and who should control it.
Turkey wants the zone to go 30 km (19 miles) inside Syria and has repeatedly warned it could launch its own operation.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday (October 1) that given the lack of progress Turkey had no choice but to act alone -- his most direct indication yet of a military incursion.
U.S. support for YPG fighters has infuriated Ankara, which sees them as linked to the Kurdish PKK movement that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.
With ties between the NATO allies already under strain, diplomats and analysts say Erdogan would be unwilling to anger Washington with a full-scale incursion into northeast Syria, where U.S. forces are stationed alongside the YPG.
But Turkey, which has twice launched military offensives with its insurgent allies in northern Syria in recent years, has been pressing for more efforts to set up the border zone.
U.S. and Turkish troops have so far carried out half a dozen joint air missions over northeast Syria and three land patrols, including one on Friday, in what Washington describes as "concrete steps" to address Ankara's concerns.
Turkey, which backs insurgents holding tracts of territory in northwest Syria near its border, also has about a dozen military posts in the nearby Idlib region.
The Turkey-backed Syrian opposition also announced on Friday that a number of Idlib rebel factions were merging with the National Army, the main rebel grouping that Turkey supports in the northwest. The move may help widen Ankara's influence in Idlib province, where militants formerly linked to al-Qaeda are the dominant force.
(Production: Yesim Dikmen, Ayat Basmah, Dina Selim)
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