Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria
Key Members: Abu Omar al-Turkistani (2015–2017), Abu Rida al-Turkistani (2017–2017), Ibrahim Mansour (2017–present);
Operational Area: Idlib Governorate, Latakia Governorate and Aleppo Governorate (Syria);
Involved In: Bomb Attacks, Armed Attacks;
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The Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria is the Syrian branch of the Turkistan Islamic Party, an armed Uyghur Salafist terrorist group with a presence in the Syrian Civil War.
While the TIP has been active in Syria, the organization’s core leadership is based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a presence in its home territory of China.
TIP (ETIM) sent the “Turkistan Brigade” (Katibat Turkistani), also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria to take part in the Syrian Civil War, most noticeably in the 2015 Jisr al-Shughur offensive.
Al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria include the Syrian branch of the Chechen Caucasus Emirate, Uzbek militants, and the Turkistan Islamic Party.
TIP has participated in: Northwestern Syria offensive (April–June 2015), Al-Ghab offensive (July–August 2015), Siege of Abu al-Duhur Airbase, Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, Northwestern Syria offensive (October–November 2015), Latakia offensive (2015–2016), Aleppo offensive (October 2015 – present), Siege of Al-Fu’ah-Kafarya (2015), Aleppo offensive (April 2016) and the Aleppo offensive (May 2016).
Syrian Churches have been demolished by Turkistan Islamic Party Uyghur fighters, who exalted in the acts of destruction, and in Homs and Idlib battlefields the Turkistan Islamic Party cooperated with Uzbek brigades and Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State compete with each other to recruit Uyghur fighters.
In Jisr al-Shughur a Church’s cross had a TIP flag placed on top of it after the end of the battle. The Uzbek group Katibat al-Tawhid wal Jihad (Tavhid va Jihod katibasi) released a video featuring themselves and the Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party attacking and desecrating Christian Churches in Jisr al-Shughur.
Jabhat al Nusra and Turkistan Islamic Party fighters were accused of displacing Christian residents of rural Jisr al-Shughour, and reportedly killed a Syrian Christian man along with his wife, accusing them of being Syrian government agents. The Saudi news agency Al-Arabiya said that the area was Alawite.
Turkistan Islamic Party has exploited the Turkish Postal Service and Turkish banks to solicit donations via the organization “Türkistan İslam Derneği” through the website “Doğu Türkistan Bülteni”.
Also, camps training children for Jihad are being run by the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria. Uyghur child soldiers being instructed in Sharia and training with guns were depicted in a video released by TIP.
According to the Jamestown Foundation, Turkish connections were used by Uyghur fighters to go into Syria and the humanitarian Uyghur East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA) which is located in Turkey sent Uyghurs into Syria, endorsed the killing of the pro-China Imam Juma Tayir, applauded attacks in China, and posted on its website content from the TIP.
Its top commander Abu Omar al-Turkistani who also served as the group’s first overall leader was killed in an American drone strike in Sarmada, Idlib on 1 January 2017.
His replacement leader Abu Rida al-Turkistani was then killed in a series of Russian airstrikes on his home near the town of Ariha on 12 January 2017 leaving his entire family dead as well.
Ibrahim Mansour succeeded Abu Rida al-Turkistani as the third leader of TIP since then.