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Ex-General: Turkey Using Military Operations in Northern Syria to Help Terrorists

Ankara is using the large-scale joint military operations in Northern Syria with the partnership of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US to help the al-Nusra Front terrorists, a former Syrian General said on Tuesday.

“At present, Turkey is hosting military exercises and denies any relationship between the drills and the situation in Syria but actually it is betraying the military operations by allowing the al-Nusra Front terrorists’ trafficking through its territories into Syria while they carry chemical weapons to kill the Syrian people,” Colonel Mare’i Hamdan told Sputnik Arabic.

He also said that Washington is fully aware that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will misuse the presence of the US forces in the joint wargames in Turkey to his benefit.

Hamdan underlined that the only side which is really fighting against terrorism is the Syrian government which is trying to protect the country’s people from the terrorist groups’ danger.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US and Turkey agreed to form a coalition to launch a large-scale military operation in Northern Syria.

Mohib Shalati, a former major general with the Syrian army, announced the news on his Twitter account on Monday.

Shalati was himself citing the US State Department’s website as announcing that the US has agreed with Turkey to launch a massive military campaign in Northern Syria.

The campaign will be backed by American and Turkish airstrikes as well as Turkish artillery attacks, it said.

Shalati said a meeting had been held in Turkey last Monday with the participation of representatives from the CIA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey as well as commanders of militant groups in Syria to coordinate the operation.

The report said the so-called “North Army” coalition will be completely financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Shalati added that the force will include militants from Ahrar al-Sham, Failaq al-Sham, Jaysh al-Sham, Thuwar al-Sham, al-Jabha al-Shamiya and Nour al-Din al-Zenki, among others.

Turkey, he said, 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 transportation of forces and weaponry from Turkey to Syria’s Aleppo. The operation will be launched from several fronts in one to two weeks, he added.

According to the former general, 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.

UN 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.

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