ALEPPO, Syria — News of the recent merging of the Syrian opposition's National Liberation Front (NLF) into the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) has raised questions about the meaning and outcome of the merger in the short and long run. This is especially pertinent now that Turkey has begun its battle against Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates River, and as wary eyes keep watch on hostilities in supposedly peaceful Idlib province in the west.
Syrian interim government leader Abdul Rahman Mustafa announced Oct. 4 that the NLF was joining the SNA to form a single army under the umbrella of his government’s Ministry of Defense. Speaking to the press in Sanliurfa, Turkey, Mustafa said the army seeks to free Syria from corruption, sectarianism and dictatorship, and to defend Idlib, Hama and the countryside of Latakia. He added that the unified SNA will strive to "return Syrian land to Syrians."