470 fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have been killed in the Euphrates Shield operation while their allied Turkish Armed Forces have lost 68 soldiers. The figures are based on a report by the International Association of Turkish-speaking Journalists and statements by the Turkish Armed Forces published on online news outlet Turkmen Agency.
“The Free Syrian Army is not very well known by the public,” said Gungor Yavuzaslan, chairperson of the association, “it consists of Turkmen, Arab and Kurdish forces,” he said.
According to Turkmen Agency, some of the largest groups in the FSA participating in the Euphrates Shield operation are the Turkmen groups of the Sultan Murat Division, a thousand fighters led by Ahmed Osman; the Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror Brigade, 650 fighters led by Dogan Suleyman; and, Muntasir Billah Brigade, 450 fighters led by Firas Pasa.
Other groups include Islamic fundamentalist groups such as the Sham Legion with a thousand fighters, the 400 fighters of Ahrar al-Sham led by Ali el-Omar Abu Ammar and the Seyfettin Polat-led Hamza Division, of 900 fighters.
The Euphrates Shield cross-border operation was launched in August 2016 by Turkish military and allied FSA groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. During the campaign, “A total of 2,705 Daesh [IS] terrorists, 2,288 dead, and 344 PKK/PYD terrorists, 322 dead, have been neutralised in 172 days of the Euphrates Shield operation” the state-run news agency AA reported on Saturday.
Recently, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he intended to form a safe zone in Northern Syria in which Turkey will allow for mainly “Arab and Turkmen brothers and sisters to settle into.”