Turkey can start new operation if necessary as Euphrates Shield ends: PM
ANKARATurkey has successfully completed its months-long Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria but can launch new military movements under a different name if necessary, the Turkish prime minister has said, adding that the life has turned to normal in places cleared of jihadists.
“After this point, if we take action in the event that our security is threatened or if action is needed against DAESH [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL], then it will be as part of a new operation. That means the Euphrates Shield is over and any potential actions, if necessary, will be named differently,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told NTV late March 29.
Yıldırım’s words followed a statement issued by the National Security Council (MGK) meeting which announced the “successfully completion” of the Euphrates Shield Operation, which was launched on Aug. 24, 2016, in a bid to clear Turkey’s border of ISIL and stop the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from merging its Kobane and Afrin cantons.
“Thanks to the Euphrates Shield, we have secured an area of 2,015 square kilometers under security by capturing al-Bab. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been settled there. Syrians in Turkey have returned and life has returned to normal,” he added.
It is not clear whether Turkey will withdraw its troops from northern Syria and when it will begin an extensive effort to create new residential areas in the region for Syrians.
The announcement was issued at the biannual MGK meeting.
“The Euphrates Shield Operation, launched to secure our country’s border security, to prevent DEAŞ threats and attacks from targeting our country, to give an opportunity to our displaced Syrian brothers to return their homes and to continue their lives in peace and security, has been successfully completed,” the MGK said in a statement issued on March 29 following a meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Turkish military supported FSA fighters with artillery and special forces during the operation. Thousands of militants were killed in the operation, according to official numbers, while more than 70 Turkish soldiers were also killed.