Turkey Announces End of Euphrates Shield Ops in Northern Syria
Turkey has announced the “successful” end of Operation Euphrates Shield, which began on August 24, 2016, aimed at securing the border region in northern Syria, specifically several towns including Jarablus then al-Bab.
“Operation Euphrates Shield has been successful and is finished. Any operation following this one will have a different name,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said after a four-hour meeting of the National Security Council at the Presidential Complex in Ankara that was chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has been backing the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which captured al-Bab from ISIS last month.
President Erdoğan said in February that he does not want to see Turkish troops lose momentum in al-Bab.
“After removing Daesh, the YPG [Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units] and the PYD [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party] from the region and getting Daesh [ISIS] out of Raqqa, it will be too much of a luxury for us to stay there,” Erdoğan said. “But it is currently too early to talk about such issues.
“There will be no stop after al-Bab. There might be a problem of communication there. The capital of Daesh is not al-Bab, but Raqqa. The ultimate goal is to cleanse a 5,000 square-kilometer area.”
After Wednesday’s decision, Yıldırım said any other future military operations would be named differently without specifying whether it will pull its troops out from Syria.
“If something threatening our security happens in the future, regarding Daesh or something else, then this will be a new operation. Operation Euphrates Shield has ended, and any other future operations will be named differently,” Yıldırım said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV.
Euphrates Shield, by controlling ISIS-held al-Bab, also successfully bisected the Kurdish-controlled areas of Afrin in the northwest and Raqqa.
Turkey considers the YPG to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a listed terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.