By Reuters – Aug 13,2018 – JORDAN TIMES
Members of National Army, backed by Turkey, take part during a graduation ceremony in the city of Al Bab, Syria, on August 5 (Reuters photo)
AZAZ, Syria — A “National Army” being set up by Syrian rebels with Turkey’s help could become a long-term obstacle to President Bashar Assad’s recovery of the northwest — if they can end factional rivalries that have long blighted the opposition.
The effort is at the heart of plans by the Turkish-backed opposition to secure and govern a strip of territory that forms part of the last big rebel stronghold in Syria.
The presence of Turkish forces on the ground has helped to shield it from government attack.
Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, has vowed to recover “every inch” of Syria and though he has now won back most of the country, the Turkish presence will complicate any government offensive in the northwest.
Turkey’s role has gone beyond supporting allied Syrian forces to rebuilding schools and hospitals. At least five branches of the Turkish post office have opened in the area.
Colonel Haitham Afisi, head of the National Army, says setting up the force has been no easy task