In a video released online by Islam Awazi, the Turkestan Islamic Party's (TIP) official media wing, they show off that they have a branch inside Syria. Not much information is given about the branch and the branch is never explicitly mentioned in the video. The viewer only knows of this branch by captions and graphics reading "Turkestan Islamic Party in the land of Syria", as the majority of the video was about the TIP's stance on China. [For background on the TIP, see these Long War Journal articles: Turkistan Islamic Party members photographed in Syria and Turkistan Islamic Party touts suicide bombings in Afghanistan]
However, we do know that it appears to have at least several dozen fighters in its ranks. One fighter, Abu Rida al Turkestani, appears to be a leader of some capacity of the group. He is featured quite often in the video and several parts of the video are narrated by him. We also know that by extension to the parent group, these fighters have bayah (allegiance) to Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban. It is therefore logical to assume that the TIP fighters in Syria fight alongside the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, and other groups allied to Al Nusrah. However, it is not yet evident where these fighters operate out of. Based on the video, it is likely either in Latakia or Idlib provinces (or both).
Additionally, other pictures were found on Twitter showing this branch in Syria. These pictures again show at least several dozen fighters. Keeping up with the TIP's trend of publicizing children in its ranks, some pictures also show children with them in Syria. Other photos show at least two tanks, but it is unsure if these tanks are operational or not. In one photo, a woman is shown with an SVD sniper rifle; this photo may, however, be a promotional picture. And other photos show two fighters on an anti-aircraft weapon.
I have previously covered TIP fighters in Syria at The Long War Journal. In Nov, I noted that around a dozen TIP fighters were photographed in Syria by Israfil Yilmaz, a former Dutch soldier turned jihadi trainer. Yilmaz, who claims neutrality, has previously trained troops for Sayfullah Shishani's jamaat, a majority Chechen faction within Al Nusrah. So while the TIP having fighters in Syria is nothing new, it is worth noting that it appears that these fighters are calling themselves the official Syrian branch of the TIP. This is very similar to the case of Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar, which is the Syrian branch of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate.
It should also comes as no surprise that these fighters would have bayah to Mullah Omar, as the TIP has bayah to the Taliban leader. The first emir of TIP, Abu Muhammad, swore bayah to Mullah Omar and the subsequent emirs have as well. It is interesting to note that at least two groups in Syria now claim allegiance to Omar. The other group, the Uzbek Imam Bukhari Jamaat, swore bayah to Mullah Omar and the Taliban back in early Nov. This group, which is based in Aleppo and fights alongside Al Nusrah and its allies, likely also has connections to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). IMU fights alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda and likely swears allegiance to Mullah Omar. The IMU also recruits for an Uzbek faction within Al Nusrah, as well.
Photos of TIP fighters allegedly in Syria