November 24, 2015

Who Are the Turkmen Fighters in Control of Russia Jet Crash Site?

By Nicholas Heras

Source: Bloomberg Business

Journalist(s) Caroline Alexander, Selcan Hacaoglu

A Russian fighter jet shot down by Turkish forces landed in Syrian territory controlled by ethnic Turkmen. While there has been no official confirmation of the pilots’ fate, a Turkmen commander told media that his forces shot dead both men as they parachuted to the ground. Here’s a brief overview of the Turkmen and their allegiances.

Russian Airstrikes

About 2,000 Turkmen are thought to be fighting forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of the rebel Free Syrian Army, according to Abdurrahman Mustafa, head of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly in Ankara. Turkey supports the FSA in its efforts to topple Assad, who has been bolstered by Russia’s military intervention on his behalf.

Turkmen are also combating the Islamic State group in Syria, and are said to be poised for a ground offensive to retake strategic crossings on the Turkish-Syrian frontier. The majority of Turkmen are moderate Sunni, though some are said to be close to al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s local affiliate in Syria.

Read the full article at Bloomberg Business.

  • Nicholas Heras

    Fellow, Middle East Security Program

    Nicholas A. Heras is a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Middle East Security Program. He is also a Senior Analyst at the Jamestown Found...