The Turkish-backed ‘Syrian National Army’ includes a variety of formations. Some groups, like the Shami Front, are long-established formations, whereas others like Division 20 are new creations. It is important in my view to document these groups objectively.
To learn more about Division 20, I conducted an interview on 4 November 2019 CE with a source from the Division 20 media office. The interview is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: When was Division 20 formed? And in which area was it formed?
A: Division 20 is a fighting formation declared on the tenth month of 2018 CE. And its basis is veteran revolutionaries who previously worked with different Syrian revolutionary factions, and they are for the most part from the sons of the eastern region in Syria (Deir al-Zour, Hasakah, Raqqa), and also it includes fighters from the sons of Homs and Qalamoun.
Q: Currently Divison 20 is within which legion, division and brigade in the Syrian National Army?
A: Division 20 works in the National Army under the designation of Brigade 144- First Legion.
Q: So within Division 14 in the First Corps.
Q: How many martyrs have you offered in the Peace Spring battles? And in which areas do you operate currently?
A: We have 5 martyrs. We work on the front stretching from the village of al-Mabruka to the boundaries of Ayn Issa south of the town of Tel Abyad.
Q: How do you assess the course of the Peace Spring operations until now?
A: From the military aspect the military operations have proven a complete success on the fronts on which there has been work. And this is what has become clear on the recession of the first and second defensive lines during a relatively short period of time.
But what regarding the extension of the military operations to new areas, all know that this region is an international conflict space and military work is tied to international understandings more like mine fields.
Q: Some people think that the Turkish-Russian memorandum of understanding means a definitive freeze of the situation. What do you think of these words?
A: In the event there is not implementation of the clauses connected with the wholesale withdrawal of the PYD/PKK militias from the areas mentioned in the agreement, this matter leaves the door open to renew military operations through new understandings.
Q: Do you expect that the current agreement may fail because of the American role for example?
A: There are no firm international understandings in what concerns the Syrian portfolio. If there were the Syrian issue would be resolved.
Q: Do you have a message for the Kurds in general?
A: My message to whoso is affiliated with the terrorist PYD/PKK militias:
You must realize an important issue: that the ‘eastern region’ will only be ruled by its people and free men, and just as Da’esh [Islamic State] was unable to taint the region with its sick ideas so the region today will throw out all that is alien to its religious, social and tribal nature. The time has come for the right to return to its people and for the displaced to return to his home.
To our Kurdish brothers, I say we are the sons of Syria: we came out in a revolution against an oppressive ruling regime that has committed crimes against the Syrian citizen in its different identities, ethnicities and religions. Those of the separatist parties in their different names who have bartered with you and made you a hostage to projects that give nothing to the Kurds except bloodshed without result: so today they come after nine years of revolution and after all the sacrifices that our people have offered, calling on you to rally behind the regime to stand in the face of your fellow countrymen from the free revolutionaries. If this matter is implemented, I remind you that you will not find from the Assad regime except what you have known of it by experience previously. And indeed your brothers in the National Army remain on the pledge of the revolution, and the Syrian civilian citizen in their different ethnicities, religions and sects will have their rights protected by the law. And whoso contravenes that is an enemy to us and you.