Beirut: The Al Qaida-linked Al Nusra Front has withdrawn from frontline positions against Daesh north of Aleppo and ceded them to other rebels, leaving an area of northern Syria where Turkey wants to establish a buffer zone.
An Al Nusra Front statement dated Sunday criticised a Turkish-US plan to drive Daesh from the Syrian-Turkish border area, saying the aim was to serve “Turkey’s national security” rather than the fight against President Bashar Al Assad.
Al Nusra Front, an enemy of Daesh, said participation in the campaign was forbidden.
The United States and Turkey last month announced their intention to drive Daesh terrorists from a strip of territory in northern Syria near the Turkish border, providing air cover for Syrian rebels in the area.
Daesh, the focus of a US-led military campaign in Syria and Iraq, controls a strip of territory north of Aleppo that abuts the Turkish border.
Al Nusra said the Turkish government and the US-led alliance against Daesh were seeking to direct the battle according to their interests and priorities, and said Syrian groups taking part were not doing so of their free will.
“Facing this current scene, our only option was to withdraw and leave our frontline positions (with Daesh) in the northern Aleppo countryside for any fighting faction in these areas to take over,” Al Nusra Front said.
It added that Al Nusra Front would maintain frontlines with Daesh in other areas including Hama province and the Qalamoun mountain range near the border with Lebanon.
Last month, Al Nusra Front said it had detained US-trained rebels in northern Syria and warned others to abandon a programme to train and equip an insurgent force to fight Daesh.
Al Nusra Front said the Turkish government’s plan to establish a buffer zone aimed to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state at its southeastern border.
The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, a US ally in the campaign against Daesh, controls some 400 km of the border to the northeast of Aleppo.