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Free Syrian Army subgroups unite to form national army

Syrian Interim Government President Jawad Abu Hatab (C) attends the meeting for the creation of a single "national army" in Aleppo, Syria on December 30, 2017. (Izzet Mazi - Anadolu Agency)

Around 30 sub-groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have unified under the banner of the country’s “National Army”, the Syrian interim government announced on Saturday.

The announcement came after the head of the interim government, Jawad Abu Hatab, met the subgroup leaders in the northern city of Azaz.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Abu Hatab noted their primary aim as keeping hold of the area liberated from Daesh through Operation Euphrates Shield and defending people by standing against the Assad regime and terror groups like Daesh and the PKK/PYD.

In the wide-ranging Euphrates Shield Operation launched last summer, the Free Syrian Army — with the support of the Turkish army — had cleared 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of land along the Turkish-Syrian border of terrorist elements.

Abu Hatab said they have unified three army corps through the project totaling 22,000 soldiers.

“First army corps is the one trained in Turkey. The second and the third consists of nearly 30 groups,” he said, adding that the most important matter is to form an army from the whole region.

“This is possible with Turkey’s support,” Hatab said, who also recalled Turkey’s efforts through Operation Euphrates Shield, which let thousands of Syrian refugees to return to their country.

Chief of General Staff of the interim government Col. Haitham Ofeisi said the formation of the “National Army” was the result of the unification of three corps.

“First we took this decision in the Euphrates Shield Operation Zone. Of course, we have made this decision with the support of Turkey,” he said adding that they would continue the process in remaining places.

Ofeisi vowed that they would clear Daesh and PKK/PYD terrorists group as well as Assad forces from the region while more army corps would be formed under the General Staff in the freed areas.

“We believe that the future of Syria will be good and we will go to all lengths of this revolution that we have started in 2011.

He said one of the targets “is to give all type of struggles against the division of our lands by Daesh and PKK/PYD terrorist organizations”.

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