Little-known groups target Turkish military presence in Syria


IDLIB, Syria – A group named after Ansar Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade claimed responsibility for an attack on Turkish forces as they crossed the Bab al-Hawa / Idlib road near the village of Kafraya, east of the town of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said on May 11 his Twitter account that the attack on a convoy of the Turkish army killed one soldier and wounded four others.

Turkish reports said the soldier who was killed was a 30-year-old infantry lieutenant named Osman Alp. His body was transported to his hometown of Manisa, in western Turkey, where he received a military funeral.

the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war watch group, said on May 11 that ambulances rushed to the scene of the blast and transported several wounded Turkish soldiers, some in critical condition. He noted that Turkish troops cordoned off the area for hours, preventing access to it.

This attack is the second for which the Ansar Abi Bakr Al-Siddiq Brigade has claimed responsibility in the past two months. On March 15, he claimed responsibility for an explosion that targeted a fuel tanker truck near a Turkish military convoy near Idlib.

The little-known group also claimed responsibility for the attacks targeting the Turkish army in Idlib in August and September 2020. Another previously unknown group calling themselves the Khattab al-Shishani Brigades Also said to have targeted Turkish soldiers in Idlib on several occasions since July 2020.

Turkish forces in northwestern Syria are often attacked by more well-known groups, despite taking precautionary measures, including stepping up surveillance at Turkish posts, driving armored vehicles past convoys at the entrance Idlib and the installation of surveillance cameras near their deployment positions in large areas. of the Idlib and Aleppo countryside, which are under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The identity of the jihadist groups behind operations targeting Turkish forces has not yet been confirmed. Many observers in Idlib believe the groups behind the attacks are linked to al-Qaeda and hostile to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, who is accused by the same groups of supporting the Turkish military in the region.

Ehab al-Bakur, a journalist living in Idlib, told Al-Monitor: “Those who support these operations are groups that reject the Turkish presence in Idlib from a religious point of view. I don’t think they have a strong organizational structure or makeup that allows them to perpetuate their attacks. Yet, said Bakur, a very large segment of Syrians in areas controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham oppose Turkish intervention and blame it for the advance of the Syrian regime – especially in early 2020 – and its control over large areas. He said it was illogical to accuse Hayat Tahrir al-Sham of being behind the attacks on the Turkish army, as the militant group “is cooperating with Turkish forces and seeking reconciliation with Turkey. It is not in his interest to target the Turkish army. “

He added: “The killing by the Turkish army of Syrians trying to enter Turkey has sparked popular discontent against the Turkish military presence. [in Syria]. Attacks on Turkish forces could be aimed at taming this popular discontent.

Abu Omar al-Janoubi, a former jihadist leader of Idlib, told Al-Monitor: “The groups targeting the Turkish forces are militant jihadist groups, possibly cells affiliated with ISIS or close to Al. -Qaida.

He said: “These groups believe that the Turkish forces are infidels and have deserted Islam. Thus, they legalized the assassination and targeting of Turkish troops as permitted under Islam. “

Janoubi said these groups believed the Turks were supporting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in his fight against ISIS and al Qaeda cells. He said the hidden motive for the attacks on Turkish troops was to strike Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, with Turkey seen as contributing to the group’s attempt to root out al-Qaeda and prosecute its affiliates. “These groups don’t want Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to appear so strong and in control, and the chaos would make Idlib seem insecure because of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.” He said Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is not involved in the attacks on Turkey as the group relies on its alliance with Ankara “to persuade the West, and the United States in particular, to remove his name from the lists. terrorists. “

Ibrahim al-Khatib, a journalist from Idlib who worked at Orient News, told Al-Monitor that the groups that attacked Turkey “have no organizational structure. They are, however, very close to IS in terms of ideology but are not administratively affiliated with it. It should be noted that, based on traditional jihadist ideology, the Turkish army is unfaithful and must be fought for religious reasons.

“The only beneficiary is Russia,” Khatib said. “Moscow wants the Turkish army to appear as an occupier that the Syrian people reject. These attacks also serve the Syrian regime’s propaganda that the Turkish army is an occupying army and that there is popular discontent against it.

He added: “These groups are exploiting incidents of civilians being run over by Turkish military vehicles to mobilize residents against Turkish troops. Furthermore, these groups claim to target Turkish soldiers from a popular point of view and they describe the Turkish presence as hostile and working against the local population.


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