Syrian Turkmen Brigades

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United Turkmen Army
Birleşik Türkmen Ordusu
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Official Flag of Syrian Turkmen.jpg
Official flag of Syrian Turkmen as declared by the official governing body of Turkmen in Syria, the Syrian Turkmen Assembly on 25 November 2015.
AllegianceSyrian Turkmen Assembly
  • Ahmet Arnavut[1]
    (overall commander)
  • Lt. Tarık Solak[1]
    (2nd Coastal Division-2nd brigade commander)
  • Riyad Qarrah Bijeq (DOW)[2]
    (2nd Coastal Division commander)
  • Alparslan Çelik[3]
    (Turkmen Mountain Brigade commander)[3]
  • Ömer Abdullah[1]
    (Field commander)
  • Adil Orli[1]
    (Field commander)
  • Col. Ahmed Othman[4]
    (Sultan Murad Division commander)
  • Fehim İsa[5]
    (Sultan Murad Division commander)
  • Ali Şeyh Salih[6] (DOW)
    (Sultan Murad Division commander)
Area of operations
Size5,000 (2015)[1]
ColoursLight blue, White, Red/Maroon
Part of
Battles and war(s)Syrian Civil War

Syrian Turkmen Brigades (Turkish: Suriye Türkmen Tugayları), also called the United Turkmen Army (Turkish: Birleşik Türkmen Ordusu), are an informal armed opposition structure composed of Syrian Turkmen and Turks that form the military wing of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, primarily fighting against the Syrian Armed Forces, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian Democratic Forces.[14] They are aligned with the Syrian opposition and are heavily supported by Turkey, who provides funding and military training along with artillery and aerial support.[15][16][17] The groups represents a wide spectrum of ideologies from Islamism to secular Turkish nationalism.


In November 2015, Syrian Turkmen Brigades and al-Nusra Front fighters were engaged in heavy fighting against the Syrian government forces supported by the Shiite militias and the Russian Air Force.[18] Turkmen forces have been the target of heavy Russian bombing in 2015, with reported civilian casualties which have been interpreted as a Russian effort aiming to change the ethnic dynamics of the region.[19][20][21]

On November 24, 2015 a Russian Su-24 fighter was shot down by Turkish forces for allegedly violating Turkish airspace, near the Syrian border. The aircraft crashed on Syrian land. The two pilots ejected and were shot at in the air while using their parachutes by the Syrian Turkmen Brigades.[22][23]

Military structure and groups[edit]


The Sultan Murad Division was formed in early 2013 and mainly operates in the Aleppo Governorate, claiming to process around 1,300 fighters as of 2016. There groups include the Mehmed the Conqueror Brigade, Syrian Turkmen Front,[24] Mehmed the Conqueror Brigade,[25] Sultan Murad Brigade, Martyr Zaki Turkmani Brigade, Ashbal Akida Brigade, Hamza and Abbas Brigade, Ahli Sunnah and Community Brigade, Yarmouk Regiment, 1st Regiment and the Turkmen Martyrs Brigade.[26] Another predominantly Turkmen rebel militia in Aleppo Governorate is the Muntasir Billah Brigade.[27]

On 1 November 2016, a group named the Forces of Alp Arslan was formed in northern Aleppo, with its logo being a modified logo of the Grey Wolves.[28]


Formed in July 2015, the 2nd Coastal Division is the main Turkmen rebel group operating in the Latakia Governorate and is notable for killing one ejected Russian Air Force pilot from the Su-24 which was shot down by Turkey.[29] The commander of the group, Alparslan Çelik, is a member of the Grey Wolves. The subdivisions are the Brigade of Mountain Turkmen, the Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror Brigade, the Sultan Selim Brigade, and the 1071 Raiders Brigade[3] The 2nd Coastal Division has less than 500 fighters as of the end of 2015, although the group claims to have 2,000.[30]

According to the Syrian Turkmen National Movement Party, as of early 2016, three out of more than 40 villages in the Turkmen Mountain of Latakia were under Turkmen rebel control, as the result of the 2015–16 Latakia offensive. Many Turkmen rebels in the area are Turkish citizens affiliated with the Grey Wolves.[31] The 2nd Coastal Division took part in the 2016 Latakia offensive in an attempt to regain the territory lost to government forces in 2015. Over the course of the offensive, rebels retook Kinsabba, though division commander Riyad Qarrah Bijeq was mortally wounded during the assault.[2]

Aligned with SDF[edit]

The Seljuq Brigade (former Sultan Selim Brigade member, now Army of Revolutionaries member) and the Manbij Turkmen Battalion (Army of Revolutionaries's Northern Sun Battalion)[32] are Syrian Turkmen groups operating Rojava Syria respectively, unlike other Syrian Turkmen rebel groups, they are allied with the Syrian Democratic Forces and are not supported by Turkey.

Other flags used by Syrian Turkmen fighters and brigades on the battlefield and at various places

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Turkey, Syrian Turkmen team up to form United Turkmen Army". Yeni Safak. 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Izat Charkatli (4 August 2016). "Another rebel commander bites the dust". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Turkey's nationalist 'Gray Wolves' enter Syrian fray". Al-Monitor. 3 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Turkish Forces and Rebels Storm Into Syria, Taking IS Stronghold of Jarablus". VOA. 24 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Sultan Murat Tugayları: Önce Çobanbey ardından Menbiç'e ilerleyeceğiz". 25 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Генпрокуратуру попросили признать убившую пилота Су-24 группу террористической". Lenta. 30 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Grey Wolves take on black flag in Syria". Intelligence Online. 2 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Greek Defense Ministry confirms Russian Su-24M bomber was downed in Syrian airspace". TASS. 2 December 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Who are the Turkmen in Syria?". BBC News. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Syrian war's al-Qaida affiliate calls for terror attacks in Russia". The Guardian. 13 October 2015.
  12. ^ Sami Kohen (26 December 2015). "Suriye Türkmenleri dört cephede savaşıyor (Syrian Turkmen fighting on 4 fronts)". Milliyet. Retrieved 27 December 2015. Statement: "Kurdish people is not our enemy, but PYD and YPG are, because they kicked Turkmen from their homes, burned villages and are currently trying to displace Turkmen and help Assad against them"
  13. ^ ORSAM 2013.
  14. ^ ORSAM 2013, p. 14.
  15. ^ Uğur Ergan (13 September 2011). "Turkish military starts training missions in Iraq, Syria - MIDEAST". Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Turkey kills 55 IS fighters in Syria | SBS News". 8 May 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  18. ^ "After shooting down Russian jet, what's next for Turkey?". Al-Monitor. 26 November 2015. Archived from the original on 31 December 2015.
  19. ^ Who Are Syria's Ethnic Turkmen And Why Is Russia Bombing Them? Russian Plane Shot Down Over Turkmen Mountain Region
  20. ^ Turkey condemns attack on Syrian Turkmen village, summons Russian envoy
  21. ^ Russian raids repeatedly hit Syrian Turkmen areas, Moscow's data shows
  22. ^ "Turkey 'shoot down warplane on Syria border'". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Turkey downing of Russia jet 'stab in the back' - Putin". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Hassan Ridha on Twitter: "#Aleppo | #FSA Syrian Turkmen Front say they killed Khalid Iskef (a Kurd) because he was allegedly working with #YPG"". 13 April 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  25. ^ "#Syria, Infographic- #FSA Sultan Murad Division | YALLA SOURIYA". 31 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Sultan Murat Tümeni". 16 August 2016.
  27. ^ Umar Farooq (16 February 2016). "Turks head to Syria to defend Turkmen 'brothers'". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  28. ^ @IvanSidorenko1 (1 November 2016). "New #FSA Turkish Group in #NorthernAleppo "Alb Arsalan Forces" Aiming to liberate Syria from #Assad & Iran & #ISIS & #Kurds" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "Turkmen rebels say they killed both pilots in downed Russian plane". Times of Israel. 24 November 2015.
  30. ^ "The Factions of North Latakia". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. 10 December 2015.
  31. ^ "Turks head to Syria to defend Turkmen 'brothers'". Middle East Eye.
  32. ^ "Who is taking part in Ghadab al-Firat campaign?". Hawar News Agency. Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.