BEIRUT – A group claiming to represent “national Syrian forces” has vowed to fight Turkey’s military incursion in Syria, announcing its formation in a north Aleppo town that is under the administrative control of the de-facto autonomous Kurdish government.
On Tuesday, the Syrian National Resistance held a press conference in Tel Rifaat to introduce its founding declaration, which was read out by Rezan Hedo, an independent member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ political wing.
“Oh Syrian brothers, people of the region have suffered from the decades of Turkish-Ottoman rule, [which] has left us with only ignorance, backwardness, hatred, sectarianism and fighting between brothers at the same time as our wealth was taken away as well as parts of our land,” the speech, which was replete with nationalistic terminology, began.
The new group went on to launch further broadsides against Turkey, accusing Syria’s northern neighbor of perpetrating “the worst forms of genocide” against people in the region, including Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Chaldeans.
“Today, [Turkey] has returned with a new look but with the same [old] mentality; to occupy other parts of our Syrian land after sowing discord and infighting between Syrians through their support for terror,” the statement added, in reference to Ankara’s military operation in northern Syria.
The Syrian National Resistance’s announcement, which made no explicit reference to Kurdish forces in northern Syria, presented its goals, which include:
1. “Resolving the disputes between the different Syrian components and uniting their powers to build a united, democratic Syria”;
2. “Confronting the Turkish occupation and deterring it from achieving its objectives; as well as restoring all Syrian land, from Jarablus to Liwa al-Iskenderun,” in reference to Turkey’s Hatay Province, which was annexed from Syria in 1939, and;
3. “Future work with all national forces to liberate every inch of occupied Syrian land.”
On August 24, Syrian rebel groups supported by the Turkish army crossed into Syria in an offensive to roll back ISIS and prevent Kurdish-led troops from controlling more territory along the border. These troops have since cleared ISIS from the border, while at the same time engaging with battles against the SDF north of Manbij.
A Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier waves as it is driven from the border back to their base in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) vociferously oppose the Turkish campaign, with PYD co-chief Saleh Muslim warning Ankara that it “will be defeated in the Syrian quagmire, just like ISIS.”
The PYD has made no official statement on the formation of the Syrian National Resistance, which was covered extensively by the ANHA news agency, which is close to Syria’s Kurdish fighting forces.
ANHA described the Syrian National Resistance as a coalition of “Syrian national forces and figures,” without specifying which groups joined the new formation.
Rezan Hedo, the head of the group’s political bureau, explained in aninterview with Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar that the Syrian National Resistance counts on “support from Syrians of different political orientations, between [regime] supporters and opponents.”
He also stressed that anti-Turkish alliance has no ties with the international coalition fighting ISIS, which backs the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.