Restructuring the National Army with Turkish Support to Confront Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham

According to information acquired by Asharq Al-Awsat, the initiative encompasses a comprehensive restructuring of the constituent forces within the National Army.

Sources within the Syrian opposition have unveiled a strategic plan aimed at revamping the Turkish-backed National Army. This initiative involves consolidating certain units, streamlining manpower, and ultimately enhancing security measures in northern Syria. The overarching goal is to bolster the authority of the Ministry of Defense of the Syrian Interim Government, which has faced persistent criticism for perceived inefficacy.

Central to this restructuring effort is the dissolution of the Advisory Council, slated to be replaced by a more authoritative military council comprising seasoned officers. Additionally, emphasis will be placed on leveraging the newly established Military Academy to train both officers and non-commissioned officers, augmenting the National Army’s personnel pool. Concurrently, there will be a concerted effort to diminish the proliferation of factions and disband formations that have proliferated over the past couple of years in northern Syria, including entities like the Joint Force and the Unified Force, among others.

Content of the plan

According to information acquired by Asharq Al-Awsat, the initiative encompasses a comprehensive restructuring of the constituent forces within the National Army, along with overhauling the military police and tightening control over internal crossings. Additionally, it aims to bolster the capabilities of the Ministry of Defense to effectively exercise its authority.

Leaders and officials within the Ministry of Defense of the “interim government” have disclosed that the implementation of this plan commenced at the outset of the current year (2024). It involves compelling local formations that had defected from the three National Army corps and formed the Shahba Gathering to reintegrate into their original factions and sever their ties with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

In line with these efforts, informal crossings between areas controlled by HTS and the National Army are slated for closure, to be replaced by a single official crossing. This measure aims to enhance security and thwart any potential infiltration attempts by Tahrir al-Sham, as confirmed by sources.

Regarding the restructuring aspect, the number of factions within the National Army will be streamlined from 27 to 18. This will involve merging certain factions based on weapon types and technical expertise, while phasing out the current division and brigade names in favor of coded numerical designations, thereby eliminating regional or ideological affiliations.

Furthermore, the plan entails a gradual reduction of fighter numbers by half over several months. A portion of these personnel will be reassigned to the reformed military police, with expanded authorities granted to them as part of the reform efforts.

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