Syrian Turkmen Groups in Latakia: An Overview
As the Syrian Civil War enters its eighth year, previously overlooked ethnic and religious groups, and the divisions and alliances between them have garnered more coverage and analysis. After years of war and the break up of traditional loyalties, groups that were previously suppressed by the Syrian government have been able to reach out to new allies, renew historic ties, or forge entirely new positions for themselves.
Some of the more commonly covered groups involved in the conflict include Kurds, who are seen as the main ally of the US in Syria the SDF/YPG. The Syrian Druze community, living in southern Syria’s Suwayda and Quneitra area, were increasingly covered by media following attacks by the Islamic State. Yazidis and Assyrians have also seen more coverage in the wake of Islamic State attacks and alliances built with the SDF and the International Coalition involved in Syria and Iraq.
Although a large, and historically significant part of Syria’s diverse ethnic heritage, Syrian Turkmen have seen very little coverage as they re-assert their identity by forming own brigades, engaging in combat against the Syrian army and setting up political parties in Northern Aleppo.
The Turkmen flag (source)
Traditional estimates by researchers covering Syria place the number of Turkmen in Syria somewhere from 500,000 to 3,000,000. Turkmen generally reside along the Turkish border, mainly in Latakia and Aleppo province, though some have settled in Homs, Damascus, and Quneitra.
Throughout the civil war, Turkmen began to form their own predominately Turkmen brigades to defend areas traditionally considered to be Turkmen and to fight in opposition to the Syrian government. The Sultan Murad brigade was one of the first Turkmen brigades to establish itself in 2013. The group later became one of Turkey’s main allied groups in its Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations.
One of the first …read more