On 1 January 2018, the Islamist paper Yeni Şafak announces that the “Turkey-backed National Army, or al-Jaysh al-Watani in Arabic, is comprised of over 30 sub-groups which fought in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama, Raqqa, Hasaka, Deir Ezzor and Latakia, making it the biggest fighting force in Syria since the breakout of the civil war in 2011. The 22,000 strong National army, which was founded by the head of Syria’s Interim Government Jawad Abu Hatab, is set to play a big role in the upcoming Afrin operation . . . [and t]here are [also] three Turkmen brigades among the ranks of the newly announced National Army that was formed following a meeting in Azaz. These brigades included the Sultan Mehmet Fatih brigade, which is under the command of Doğan Suleiman, and the Muntasir Billah and the newly-founded Sultan Murat Brigade”.1
These obviouly Islamist or Jihadi armed forces thus seem to have been put together for the express purpose of battling the Kurdish PYD (YPG/YPJ), as an offshoot of the PKK (or Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê). In other words, the Prez and AKP-led Turkey appears to opf for delegating the fight to a supposedly independent Syrian faction, arguably in an effort to deflect attention from the fact that hte Turkish state seems once again to be targeting the Kurds . . . thereby pitting Islamsts against secularists (or leftists) rather than simply Turks against Kurds. In order for the reader to nevertheless comprehend the urgency of this anti-Kurdish initiative, the Turkish Islamist paper explains that the “PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The PKK has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade long conflict”.2
1 “Turkey-backed National Army formed in Syria” Yeni Şafak (01 Jan 2018). https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/turkey-backed-national-army-formed-in-syria-2921743.
2 “Turkey-backed National Army formed in Syria”.