US, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi to launch operations in north Syria: Report
A report says Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US and Turkey have agreed to form a coalition to launch a wide military operation in northern Syria allegedly to fight the terrorist groups of Daesh and al-Nusra Front.
The Rai al-Youm newspaper, edited by prominent Palestinian journalist Abdul Bari Atwan, on Monday quoted Mohib Shalati, a former major general with the Syrian army who defected from the institution, as making the announcement on his Twitter account on Saturday.
Shalati was himself citing the US State Department’s website as announcing that the US has agreed with Turkey to launch a wide military campaign in northern Syria. The campaign will be backed by American and Turkish airstrikes as well as Turkish artillery attacks.
Shalati added that a meeting had been held in Turkey last Monday with the participation of representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey as well as the commanders of the militant groups in Syria to coordinate the upcoming military operation.
The report said the so-called “North Army” will be completely financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Shalati added that the force will include militants from the militant groups of Ahrar al-Sham, Failaq al-Sham, Jaish al-Sham, Thuwar al-Sham, al-Jabha al-Shamiya and Nour al-Din al-Zenki, among others.
He said Turkey had told the militant groups that if they refuse to participate in the operations, they will be deprived of support and will be added to a terror list.
Shalati said the agreement entails the transportation of forces and weaponry from Turkey to Syria’s Aleppo.
The operation will be launched from several axes in one to two weeks, Shalati said.
Shalati said more than 3,000 militants with advanced equipment will take part in the operation.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The United Nations (UN)’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has also displaced over half of the Arab country’s pre-war population of about 23 million.