A report by the name of The Syrian National Army, written by an AKP sympathizer and SETA worker (Ömer Özkizilcik), was posted online to be used as material for a Free Syrian Army meeting. Though the Turkish state quickly intervened and removed the post containing critical data, by then it had reached millions of people, Nûçe Ciwan correspondents among them.
The report also revealed blood-freezing rates of child soldiers in the Free Syrian Army. It was proved that 46 of the 1551 fighters being surveyed in the creation of the report, were children upon signing up in 2017. This would mean that 3.2% of the mercenaries fighting under the Free Syrian Army are children. Considering that the claims of 90,000 mercenaries fighting under the FSA are true, this would equate to 3,880 children fighting for Erdogan.
The report also shared statistical data of the composure of the Free Syrian Army, a force which Erdogan referred to as his “arms and wings,” detailing that three legions which amount to 30,000- 40,000 fighters in total, and fought in Operation Peace Spring. The SNA, the biggest force to unite under the Free Syrian Army, has around 26,319-35,092 Arab fighters; 3,159-4,212 Turkmen fighters; 426- 568 Kurdish fighters; and 96 -128 Circassian and fighters of other ethnic origins in its ranks.
Such armed militias, especially proxies of the Turkish state, generally tend not to share official figures but attempt to make their numbers appear higher than they actually are, to fend off any attacks and to create a notion of superiority. This has especially been the case since the Syrian Democratic Forces announced that their forces are made up of 200,000 warriors.
The report also documented deep contradictions within the forces who became mere mercenaries after their involvement with the Turkish state and particularly after Operation Peace Spring. It was detailed that after this operation, the Free Syrian Army grew even further away ideologically from its Syrian National Army roots, becoming increasingly involved with the ISIS remnants that also joined the Free Syrian Army.
The forces, which was initially formed on the basis of taking over control of Syria, are now safe-guarding Turkey-occupied areas, looting and murdering innocent civilians.
The areas under Turkish occupation, where FSA forces are currently safe-guarding were listed as follows: Tal Abyad, Suluq, Tal Khalaf, Rasulayn, Azaz, Al-Rai, Afrin, Jinderes, and Shaikh Hadid in Syria, and to Gaziantep, Kilis, and Şanlıurfa in northern Kurdistan. While it is notable that the FSA is currently only being deployed on commands by Erdogan, it was also revealed in this document that Free Syrian Army proxies are also being deployed to cities in northern Kurdistan (Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa).
The report also highlighted the eagerness of the fighters to join a central: “The most important and significant finding of this report is that 90% of SNA fighters are ready to join the central army of Syria if a legitimate political transition process were to take place and a new government were to be formed.” The second most significant finding detailed in the report was “the U.S. backing of the SNA fighters.”
The report shares that of the 41 factions of the Free Syrian Army, 21 were previously supported by the United States directly and three of them via the Pentagon’s program to combat DAESH. “Eighteen of these factions were supplied by the CIA via the MOM Operations Room in Turkey, a joint intelligence operation room of the ‘Friends of Syria’ to support the armed opposition. Fourteen factions of the 28 were also recipients of the U.S.-supplied TOW anti-tank guided missiles.” It was also shared that 31 of the 41 factions were used in the fight against the YPG, highlighting to what extent the Syrian National Army has become a Turkish proxy under the Free Syrian Army to utilize a majority in its forces for Turkey’s hostility towards Kurds.
The document highlights that after eight years of war, the Syrian opposition announced that all armed groups united and joined forces under the banner of the SNA with the start of Operation Euphrates Shield, through “Turkish pressure”. Revealing the key reason as to the constant internal conflict in Turkey-occupied areas, the report continued:
“In general, the factions that united and became the SNA can be summarized as all the factions in Idlib, Latakia, Hama, western Aleppo, Afrin, and northern Aleppo. In terms of numbers, the SNA comprises approximately 70,000-90,000 fighters in total. The biggest factions in the SNA in terms of numbers are Ahrar al-Sham, Ahrar al Sharqiyah, Faylaq al-Sham, Firka Hamza, Firka Sultan Murad, Free Idlib Army, Jabhat Shamiyah, Jaysh al-Islam, Jaysh al-Ahrar, Jaysh a- Nasr, Jaysh al-Sharqiya, and Jaysh al-Nukhba.
However, if we only count the first three legions, which are part of the current survey, the total number of the first three legions is around 30,000-40,000 fighters. Among them, the biggest factions are Ahrar al Sharqiyah, Firka Hamza, Firka Sultan Murad, Jabhat Shamiyah, Jaysh al-Islam, Jaysh al-Sharqiya, and Jaysh al-Nukhba.”
Another very interesting fact about the makeup of the factions is that none of the factions are made up of only Kurdish fighters, while there are 12 factions of Turkmen forces. Previously, the Erdogan regime had propagandized a campaign about the existence of a supposed “Kurdish Hawks” force consisting of thousands, fighting under the Free Syrian Army.
In fact, the writer of the report, Ömer Özkizilcik, lied in an interview claiming that there were over 40,000 Kurdish fighters in the FSA. The attempt here, similar to the KDP example in southern Kurdistan, is to feed a narrative that the Erdogan regime is not hostile to all Kurds.
The non-existence of a fraction of Kurdish people in the FSA is an evident attempt by the Turkish state to divide the Kurds in even its own ranks, the document states that “Eight of the 41 factions have fighters from eastern Syria, four factions have fighters from southern Syria, and all factions have fighters from northern Syria.” In this way, the population of Kurds are distributed, to make them easier to integrate. According to the questionnaires in the report, most Kurds and Circassions are in the third legion, most Arabs in the Second legion, and most Turkmens in the first legion.
The report which was deleted quickly after being shared, highlights the great internal conflict among Turkish proxies, and the Turkish pressure in the creation and arming of these proxies.