Turkey brokers agreement among factions after Afrin's take over by Al Qaeda offshoot

Turkey brokers agreement among factions after Afrin's take over by Al Qaeda offshoot
Update: 17 October 2022 22:04
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The Turkish-brokered agreement will enable HTS to "extend its rule out of Idlib to the entire region in north and northwest Syria," according to Asharq Al-Awsat's Idlib correspondent.

Following the capture of a Kurdish-majority city in northeast Syria by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a Turkish-brokered agreement has reportedly frozen the armed conflict between the occupying parties and a resisting faction.

The agreement resulted in a ceasefire that has temporarily stopped clashes among Turkish-backed factions, some of which supported HTS in its recent take over of the formerly Turkish-occupied city of Afrin, Reuters said.

HTS and a number of groups affiliated to Turkey's proxy "Syrian National Army" (SNA), such as al-Hamza and Sultan Suleiman Shah divisions and Ahrar al-Sham, deployed forces to Afrin on Thursday and clashed with the SNA-affiliated Third Legion which used to be in control of the city.

"Agreement reached in the presence of Turkish officials"

Firas Kerem, Idlib correspondent of Asharq Al-Awsat, said on Sunday that the Turkish-brokered agreement enables HTS to "establish an administrative entity" that will "extend its rule in Idlib to the entire region in north and northwest Syria, including countrysides of Aleppo."

Kerem added that "while Turkish authorities gave a green light to this, HTS and its allies have very recently reached an agreement with the Third Legion, in the presence of Turkish officials."

"There is an alliance with the Turks"

A Belgium-based researcher confirmed the agreement, telling Rudaw that the HTS's deployment to Afrin followed an "agreement" with Ankara.

Hussein Omar said:

"There is an alliance with the Turks because [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan wants to win the 2023 elections by getting rid of these dismantled mercenary gangs or those who further spread chaos, which annoys the Turks, just as people complain about their practices."

Turkish military vehicles in HTS-held city

American journalist Lindsey Snell posted a photo on Twitter allegedly showing Turkish military vehicles in HTS-captured Afrin on Saturday.

She wrote:

"Turkish military has been deployed to Afrin after their partners in al-Qaeda spinoff HTS took control of the city. This is Turkey, a NATO member, alongside an al-Qaeda affiliate. It's not even surprising at this point."

Afrin was occupied by the Turkish military and its proxies in 2018 in a large scale Turkish incursion into Northeast Syria. Ankara claims that it was an anti-terror operation.

HTS, a jihadist group that is the dominant power in Syria's Idlib Governorate, was the main affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria until 2018 and is designated a terrorist organization by the United States.