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JIHADISTS fighting in Syria’s Idlib province are wearing Turkish army uniforms and have been provided with military equipment as Russian and Syrian government troops edge closer to victory.
At least five Turkish soldiers were killed today and another five wounded during artillery attacks, Turkey’s Ministry of Defence confirmed.
They were killed after Russian and Syrian fighter jets struck the Taftanaz airbase to the south-east of Idlib where Turkish forces and mercenaries are stationed.
Clashes intensified after Turkish forces launched a new wave of attacks east of Idlib and Aleppo this morning.
Turkey has mobilised at least 1,500 military vehicles into the region in the last 10 days, with jihadists stationed at observation posts and newly established positions.
In a bid to halt the advance of the Syrian and Russian troops, jihadists in the Syrian National Army (SNA) — formerly known as the Free Syrian Army — have been given Turkish army uniforms.
The SNA is a mercenary alliance of al-Qaida factions including Ahrar al-Sham along with Isis and al-Nusra fighters. The jihadists had mainly worn the uniforms of the various armed groups they belonged to.
But in a new move, members of the Hamza Brigade, the Sultan Murad Brigade, the Sultan Suleyman Brigade and the Muntasir Billah Brigade were given Turkish army uniforms and transferred to Idlib after receiving military training in Turkey.
Jihadist militias have previously been trained and equipped by the shady Turkish private defence consultancy SADAT, which was established in 2012 by former Turkish army officer Adnan Tanriverdi.
In 2016 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed Mr Tanriverdi as his chief security adviser.
A secret meeting convened by the Turkish military and intelligence told more than 40 jihadist commanders in Reyhanli in Turkey that talks with Russia had failed.
A senior al-Nusra commander said that the jihadists would “fight with all their strength” to maintain control of Idlib.
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