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East Turkistan National Army (Ili National Army)
Female soldiers, circa 1946
Founded8 April 1945 – 22 December 1949
Country Second East Turkestan Republic
Size50,000 infantry and 100,000 irregular reserves
Nickname(s)Milli Armiye (National Army)
ColorsBlue and white
MarchKozghal! (Arise!)
Equipment12 artillery pieces
42 Fighter planes
EngagementsIli Rebellion
Chinese Civil War
Marshal-in-chiefElihan Tore
Political commissarAbdulkerim Abbas
General Isaqbeg, General Delilqan, Major Barat Hacı

The East Turkistan National Army, also known as the Ili National Army (Chinese: 伊犁民族军), was the army of the East Turkestan Republic (ETR) that originally consisted of six regiments: the Suidun Infantry Regiment, the Ghulja Regiment, the Kensai Regiment, the Ghulja Reserve Regiment, the Kazakh Cavalry Regiment, the Dungan Regiment, the Artillery Subdivision, the Sibo Subdivision, and the Mongol Subdivision. The last two subdivisions were later reformed to regiments. All regiments were armed with mostly German-made weapons, provided by the Soviet Union by order of Joseph Stalin ; its personnel was trained in the Soviet Union.[1] Rebel aviation included 42 airplanes, captured in Ghulja Kuomintang air base and repaired by Soviet military personnel.[2]


The East Turkistan National Army also known as the Ili National Army was formed on 8 April 1945. Elihan Tore was the Marshal of the Ili National Army until his exile to the Soviet Union.[3] Abdulkerim Abbas served as the INA's political director.[4]

According to M. Kutlukov, in September 1945, the East Turkistan National Army /Ili National Army made decisive victories over Kuomintang troops in Jungaria, where two newly formed full-sized Kuomintang divisions of around 25,000 troops, armed with American-made weapons, were trapped and completely annihilated (except for 6,000 soldiers and officers, including 7 generals, who surrendered) in battles in the highly fortified Wusu-Shihezi district. This was in part thanks to the courage of soldiers and officers of the Ili National Army, the experience of numerous Soviet military personnel and advisers who directly participated in the military operations, and the employment of heavy artillery fire and aerial bombings (by rebel aviation) of Kuomintang positions in the strategic oil rich district.[citation needed]

On 22 December 1949, the East Turkistan National Army/Ili National Army joined the People's Liberation Army as the Xinjiang 5th Corps,[5] but then was reformed; its divisions were transferred to the newly created Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps with all weapons of the divisions having been seized. Later these national divisions were disbanded, and most of its personnel were imprisoned, executed, or had fled to the Soviet Union.[citation needed]


Ishaq Beg Munonov deputy commander-in-chief of the Ili National Army, wearing the rank insignia of Major General.
Ishaq Beg Munonov deputy commander-in-chief of the Ili National Army, wearing the rank insignia of Major General.
Ehmetjan Qasim, president of Second East Turkestan Republic in the military uniform of the National Army.
Ehmetjan Qasim, president of Second East Turkestan Republic in the military uniform of the National Army.
Officers of the East Turkistan National Army -1945
Officers of the East Turkistan National Army -1945

The National Army of the Second East Turkestan Republic was formed on 8 April 1945, and originally consisted of six regiments:

  1. Suidun infantry regiment
  2. Ghulja regiment
  3. Kensai regiment
  4. Ghulja reserve regiment
  5. Kazakh cavalry regiment
  6. Tungan regiment
  7. Sibo battalion
  8. Mongol battalion

General conscription of all races, except the Chinese, into the National Army was enforced in the Ili zone.[6]

Later, Sibo and Mongol battalions were upgraded to regiments. When Kazakh irregulars under Osman Batur defected to the Kuomintang in 1947, the Kazakh cavalry regiment of National Army also defected to Osman Batur. The motorized part of Army consisted of an Artillery Division, which included twelve cannons, two armoured vehicles, and two tanks. National aviation forces included forty-two airplanes, captured at a Kuomintang air base in Ghulja on 31 January 1945; all of them were damaged during the battle for the base. Some of these aircraft were repaired and put into service by Soviet military personnel in ETR. These airplanes participated in the battle between Ili rebels and the Kuomintang for Shihezi and Jinghe in September 1945.

This battle resulted in the capture of both KMT bases and oil fields in Dushanzi. During the battle, one more Kuomintang airplane was captured, detachments of National Army reached Manasi River north of Ürümqi, which caused panic in the city. Government offices were evacuated to Kumul. An offensive on Xinjiang's capital was cancelled due to direct pressure from Moscow on Ili rebels' leadership, which agreed to follow orders from Moscow to begin peace talks with Kuomintang. Moscow ordered the National Army to cease fire on all frontiers. First peace talks between Ili rebels and Kuomintang followed Chiang Kai-shek's speech on China State Radio, offering "to peacefully resolve Xinjiang crisis" with the rebels. These peace talks were mediated by the Soviet Union and started in Ürümqi on 14 October 1945.

The National Army enlisted 25,000 to 30,000 troops. In accordance with the peace agreement with Chiang Kai-shek signed on 6 June 1946, this number was reduced to 11,000 to 12,000 troops and restricted to stations in only the Three Districts (Ili, Tarbaghatai and Altai) of northern Xinjiang. National Army detachments were also withdrawn from southern Xinjiang, leaving the strategic city of Aksu and opening the road from Ürümqi to the Kashgar region. This allowed the Kuomintang to send 70,000 troops from 1946 to 1947 and quell the rebellion in the Pamir Mountains.

The rebellion was broken on 19 August 1945, in the Sariqol area of Taghdumbash Pamir. Rebels led by the Uyghur Sadiq Khan Khoja from Kargilik and the Sariqoli Tajik Karavan Shah captured all the border posts near the Afghan, Soviet and Indian borders (Su-Bashi, Daftar, Mintaka Qarawul, Bulunqul), and a Tashkurgan fortress, killing Kuomintang troops. The rebels took Kuomintang troops by surprise as they celebrated the capitulation of Japanese Army in Manchuria. A few Kuomintang forces in Sariqol survived and fled to India during the rebel attack. The original base of the rebellion was situated on the mountainous Pamir village of Tagarma, near the Soviet border. On 15 September 1945, Tashkurgan rebels took Igiz-Yar on the road to Yangihissar, while another group of rebels simultaneously took Oitagh, Bostan-Terek and Tashmalik on the road to Kashgar.

By the end of 1945, Tashkurgan rebels had attacked Kashgar and Yarkand districts. On 2 January 1946, while the Preliminary Peace Agreement was signed in Ürümqi between Ili rebels and Kuomintang representatives under Soviet mediation, rebels took Guma, Kargilik and Poskam, important towns controlling communications between Xinjiang, Tibet and India. On 11 January 1946, the Kuomintang Army counter-attacked the Yarkand military zone, bringing reinforcements from Aksu Region. The counter-attackers repelled Tashkurgan rebels from the outskirts of Yarkand, recaptured the towns of Poskam, Kargilik and Guma and brought the Tashkurgan Region back under Chinese control by the summer of 1946.

Only a few hundred of the 7000 rebels survived. The survivors retreated to the mountainous Pamir base in Qosrap (village in present-day Akto County). The National Army was partially active in Kashgar and Aksu from 1946 to 1949 until the arrival of People's Liberation Army (PLA) units in Xinjiang.

Deng Liqun, a special envoy of Mao Zedong, arrived at Ghulja on 17 August 1949 to negotiate with the Three Districts leadership about the districts' future. Deng sent a secret telegram to Mao about the Three Districts forces the following day. He listed these forces as including about 14,000 troops, armed mostly with German weapons, heavy artillery, 120 military trucks and artillery-towing vehicles, and around 6,000 cavalry horses. Soviet military personnel were present in the Army and serviced fourteen airplanes, which were used as bombers. On 22 December 1949, the National Army was incorporated into the PLA as its Xinjiang 5th Army Corps.


Main article: Military ranks of East Turkestan

The Second East Turkestan Republic (1944-1949) national army ranks were similar in design to Soviet ranks due to the army having been trained by the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union's support during its war against the Kuomintang.[7]

Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
National Army
of the
Second East Turkestan Republic
گېنىرال لېتىناتلىق
گېنىرال مايورلۇق
General of the Army General Lieutenant General Major General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Senior Lieutenant Lieutenant Junior Lieutenant
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
National Army
of the
Second East Turkestan Republic
- Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Private 1st class Private



  1. ^ "历史上的新疆民族军:"三区革命"的主力军" [The Xinjiang National Army in History: The Main Force of the "Three-Region Revolution"]. 编辑:李晓江 (in Simplified Chinese). 青年军事·中国军网,来源:新疆哲学社会科学网. 3 March 2014. Archived from the original on 7 May 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  2. ^ Kutlukov, M. (1958). "East Turkestan Republic (1944–1949) in Xinjiang as part of Uyghur independence East Turkestan". Academy of Sciences of USSR. Tashkent.
  3. ^ Millward 2007: 219.
  4. ^ "哈吉娅•阿巴斯, 宣传党的民族政策——我的父亲阿不都克里木·阿巴索夫" [Hagia Abbas, propaganda of the party's national policy-my father Abdukrim Abbasov] (in Chinese). 14 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Parade Incorporating the East Turkistan National Army into the PLA's 5th Army Corps". East Turkistan Government in Exile. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  6. ^ Perkins, E. Ralph, ed. (1947). "Unsuccessful attempts to resolve political problems in Sinkiang; extent of Soviet aid and encouragement to rebel groups in Sinkiang; border incident at Peitashan". The Far East: China (PDF). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947. Vol. VII. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. pp. 546–587. Documents 450–495.
  7. ^ "历史上的新疆民族军:"三区革命"的主力军" [The Xinjiang National Army in History: The Main Force of the "Three-Region Revolution"]. 编辑:李晓江 (in Simplified Chinese). 青年军事·中国军网,来源:新疆哲学社会科学网. 3 March 2014. Archived from the original on 7 May 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b "图册:新疆民族军军服" [Photo album: Xinjiang National Army uniforms] (in Chinese). 24 October 2003. Retrieved 8 June 2021.


Further reading