Turkey-backed FSA sold Turkish armoured vehicles to Islamic State: military source

Turkey-backed FSA members in Syria as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation.

According to a claim made in Turkish media on Wednesday, Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups sold Turkish armoured vehicles to the Islamic State (IS) group, during the Euphrates Shield Operation.

A report in the Birgun daily based on military sources said FSA groups given eight tanks and armoured vehicles to enter al-Bab in northern Syria sold or handed over some of these vehicles to the jihadist group.

The Turkish Chief of Staff launched an investigation into the matter but no results were gained as the file remains open, the report added. The value of a single vehicle is thought to be in the range of 680 thousand dollars.

Footage on the Birgun website shows the tanks in question first seen being used by FSA militants, who are praying on top of the vehicle, which then appear in IS ranks. Vehicle ‘243768’ is identifiable from its number plate. IS members point to the tank and say, “Spoils of war,” in the video.

Military sources speaking to the newspaper also alleged there were double standards during the operation into Syria and that FSA members were treated better than Turkish soldiers.

“We conducted the operation in very difficult circumstances. There was nothing to eat and nowhere to wash. There were also double standards. FSA members had better conditions. On top of this they sold armoured vehicles. The vehicles were registered to us. Many of them [FSA] were thieves, drug addicts and smugglers.”

More than 70 Turkish soldiers and 500 FSA militants were reportedly killed in the Euphrates Shield Operation launched in August 2016 and suspended in March 2017. Turkish authorities said the operation was being carried out against the IS and to block Kurdish forces from expanding their area of control in northern Syria’s autonomous north.