Sat 17 Nov 2018

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In Idlib: “Free Army” Factions Receive Turkish Conditional Funding

“Free Army” members at the Sharran axis in Afrin’s surrounding- 11 February 2018 (Enab Baladi)

“Free Army” members at the Sharran axis in Afrin’s surrounding- 11 February 2018 (Enab Baladi)

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The factions of the “Free Army,” functioning in Idlib governorate, have received a new finical support from Turkey, as a substitute for the former US funding program, according to what military sources have told Enab Baladi.

Three sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, today, February 16, said that the funding has covered 11 military factions that have lately joined the “Repel the Invaders” operations room, excluding “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS).

Turkey has a condition; the funded factions should divide their efforts between the fronts in the eastern countryside of Idlib and Afrin, to participate in the “Olive Branch” operation.

One of the three sources, however, negated that the participation in Afrin’s battle would be proposed as a condition; rather, it would take the form of request, if the [factions]had the ability to do so.

The funding would be offered to factions’ members as a monthly compensation, in Turkish Lira, to be exchanged for dollars inside Syria.

The sources said that the compensation’s amount has not yet been made clear to be declared early in March.

Yesterday, February 16, “Jaysh al-Nasr” (the Army of Victory), under the “Free Army,” published photos of its members during  their participation in the battles of Afrin for the first time after it concentrated its military operations in the rural Hama and Idlib.

On February 3, opposition factions in rural Idlib formed a joint operations room, under the title “Repel the Invaders,” to unify their efforts in the battles against Assad’s forces and ally militias.

The operations room included the following factions: “Ahrar al-Sham, Sham Legion, Jaysh al-Ahrar, Free Idlib Army, Jaysh al-Izza, Jaysh al-Nasr, Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, Elite Army, Second Army, Brigade 40 and 1st Infantry Division.”

According to the sources, today, “Ahrar al-Sham” is preparing to participate in the “Olive Branch” operation, after many factions have already started including “Nour al-Din al-Zenki” and “Sham Legion.”

The current developments correspond to spreading Turkish monitoring points in Idlib governorate, the last of which was on February 15 in the eastern countryside of Maarrat al-Nu’man, which has been preceded by another point in Tell Touqan, to the west of Abu al-Duhur Military airbase and Talet Issa in the southern countryside of Aleppo.

The military factions that joined “Repel the Invaders” operations room managed to regain control over wide area’s in the eastern countryside of Idlib, they previously lost, form Assad’s forces, which conducted major operations in the area.

The United States of America has reduced its military and financial support to the “Free Army” factions in Syria since the beginning of 2017, to completely cut it off in the first month of 2018.

The former American funding was concentrated in two support rooms: The first is “MOC,” which is a Military Operation Center, that included representatives of the US, British, French and Arabic intelligence services, which was formed in 2013 and was based in Jordan.

The second is “MOM,” another Operation Center for the cooperation of the support provided to the factions of the “Free Army,” including almost the same countries as “MOC.” However, it supported the northern fronts in Syria and was based in Turkey.

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