500 Turkish Fighters Are Among Syrian Opposition Ranks

Recent reports from Turkey's intelligence agencies indicate the presence of nearly 500 Turkish fighters among Syrian opposition ranks.

al-monitor A member of the Free Syrian Army waits as gunfire is heard between them and the armed Kurds of The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, Nov. 25, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh.

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Sep 29, 2013

Turkish intelligence services have reported the presence of about 500 fighters from Turkey in Syria. Some of them are fighting in jihadist ranks and others are serving as mercenaries. Mercenaries earn $1,500 a month. A third group are Kurds from Turkey who have joined the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that is now clashing with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). 

These intelligence reports have finally put an end to debates on whether fighters from Turkey are involved in the Syrian war. According to information Taraf obtained from intelligence sources, there are now about 500 people from Turkey fighting in Syria. They are concentrated into three categories. The first group contains those who have come to Syria to join the jihad along with fighters from a variety of Muslim countries. The second group are mercenaries who have been recruited by private security units set up to protect the assets of rich Syrians. Mostly adventurers, these mercenaries earn up to $1,500 a month. The third group comprises Kurds of Turkey who have come to join the PKK’s Syrian extension, the PYD. Some former PKK fighters are those who have returned to their normal lives in Turkey with the solution process. Meanwhile, some former pro-government Kurdish village guards have joined the FSA. Reports said there have been instances when the Kurdish village guards from Turkey have clashed with Kurdish fighters of the PYD. 

Turkish intelligence sources said that a new group in the Syrian war is formed almost every day and now there are about 1,200 groups fighting against Assad.  Most of them have foreign sponsors in Europe and the Arab world. Most of the groups claim religious motivations. Experts have said some countries sponsor more than one organization. Leaders of these organizations want to have a place in the regime that will replace President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad too has been recruiting mercenaries. Thousands of fighters, mainly from Iran, are fighting for Assad, also for $1,500 salaries. Most of the massacres in Syria are said to have been perpetrated by these mercenaries.

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