Turkey ‘neutralizes’ 3,000 ISIL militants in Syria
“As the only army that carried out hand-to-hand fight with DAESH, Turkish Armed Forces neutralized over 3,000 radical terrorists of DAESH and enabled 320,000 Syrians to return to their homes with the Operation Euphrates Shield launched on August 2016,” Turkish Ministry of National Defense said in a written statement on March 23, using another acronym for ISIL.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralize” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Turkish Armed Forces started Operation Euphrates Shield on August 24, 2016 in an attempt to ensure border security and the return of Syrian refugees and prevent ISIL terrorism.
“Operation Euphrates Shield reached its goal after the control of al-Bab settlement was gained on Feb. 24, 2017,” the statement said.
“The operations we conducted at the Syrian border, and in addition to these operations, all the efforts to stabilize and support the region together with other involved state organizations resulted in the return of more than 320.000 Syrians to their homeland,” it said.
West welcomes ‘milestone’ fall of ISIL bastion
Meanwhile, governments greeted the fall of ISIL’s last bastion, marking the end of its self-declared “caliphate,” as a “milestone” on March 23, but warned of remaining dangers.
French President Emmanuel Macron said a source of potential terror attacks had been “eliminated,” but warned that “the threat remains and the fight against terrorist groups must continue.”
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called the bastion’s fall “a historic milestone” in the fight against ISIL and said the British government remained “committed to eradicating their poisonous ideology.”
More than 630 civilians were killed in the six-month operation against ISIL that culminated in its defeat on March 23, a monitor said.
The civilian dead -- among them relatives of ISIL fighters -- included 209 children and 157 women, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
The YPG launched their offensive against the jihadists’ last bastions in the Euphrates Valley on September 10, taking town after town before finally announcing victory in the village of Baghouz on March 23.
Ankara considers the YPG as a terrorist organization due to its links with the PKK, which is listed a terror group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.