Original article by Morning Star staff
AN explosive new report has revealed extensive links between senior members of the Isis death cult and Nato member Turkey, including claims that intelligence services helped jihadists cross into Syria to commit alleged war crimes against Kurds.
The database, published today by the Rojava Information Centre (RIC), draws on information gathered from jihadist Telegram messaging groups and local intelligence sources provided by the foreign ministry of North Eastern Syria.
It details more than 40 former senior jihadists, including Isis commandeers, brigade leaders, recruiting officers and co-ordinators who the report claims are working closely with Turkish intelligence services (MIT).
The former Isis fighters are now part of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which Ankara allied with during its illegal invasion and occupation of the largely Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria during Operation Olive Branch in January 2018.
The FSA is made up of dozens of jihadist militias including Jaysh al-Islam, Suleiman Shah and Sultan Murad — all of which have been accused of atrocities.
Ankara claimed its Afrin invasion, which displaced up to 300,000 people and killed at least 500, according to human rights groups, was to protect its border from terrorism.
The operation targeted the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), part of the coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but deemed by Turkey an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation has led to accusations of war crimes, torture, rape and judicial executions by the United Nations and human rights organisations.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), ultra-nationalist Turkish faction the Grey Wolves, a fascist “death squad” responsible for massacres of hundreds of civilians, also fought alongside many of these factions in Afrin.
An RIC spokesman told the Star: “Residents, rebels and local opposition officials suggest Turkey’s role in Syria has gradually expanded from the security sector to encompass most aspects of political and civilian life — courts, schools and religious authorities,” with local councils now operating under Ankara’s control.
The database includes former Isis commander Isma’il Firas al-Abbar, who is now a brigade leader in the FSA operating in Afrin and former Isis fighter Basil Nayef al-Shehab, now a commander in the Sultan Murad division, which receives military equipment and training from Turkey.
RIC researcher Joan Garcia told the Star the database is just a fraction of the depth and extent of Turkey’s collusion with Isis.
“Multiple prominent Isis commanders and fighters are now operating openly as commanders in militias funded, armed, trained and controlled by Turkey,” she said.
“Some of these individuals work in direct co-operation with the Turkish intelligence services, and all are part of a chain of command reaching directly to Ankara and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Some are known to have passed through Turkey once leaving Isis as their defeat became apparent, taking the return path on the ‘jihadist highway’ which brought tens of thousands of jihadist fighters and their families into Syria via Turkish soil, in both tacit and active collusion with the Turkish state.“