Ankara sponsored on Friday the unification of “moderate opposition factions” operating in north Syria under the umbrella of the Syrian National Army.
The move is expected to pave the way for dismantling Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda offshoot previously known as al-Nusra Front, and which controls large swaths of territory throughout Idlib province.
Reuters reported on Friday that the move might also help widen Ankara’s influence in Idlib.
Prime Minister of the Syrian opposition's self-styled interim government Abdurrahman Mustafa announced on Friday the unification of the National Liberation Front, based in Idlib, and the Syrian National Army under one army linked to the interim government’s Defense Ministry.
Opposition sources confirmed that the expansion of the National Army would now include seven legions of 80,000 fighters.
“Today the National Army and National Liberation Front are united under a single regular army,” Mustafa told a press conference at a hotel in Sanliurfa on Friday.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal quoted a US source as saying that American officials are increasingly concerned that Turkey will mount a major incursion into northern Syria and trigger a clash with Kurdish fighters, an action that would likely prompt the Trump administration to remove its forces from Syria to avoid the conflict.