New cross-border operations on the way, President Erdoğan vows
TRABZONPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the first phase of Turkey’s military operation in Syria, dubbed the Euphrates Shield, has ended while heralding that new operations will follow.
“We have completed the first phase of the Euphrates Shield Operation with the cleaning of Syria’s al-Bab from terrorists. It is now over and there will be [operations] from now on. Right now, we are preparing for new operations to walk all over terror organizations in other regions. We will give new names to new operations. We have very good surprises for all terror groups, including the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] YPG [the People’s Protection Units], DEASH [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization], waiting for the spring. With God’s will, the upcoming months will be the dead winter of terrorists while it will be the spring of Turkey and the Turkish nation,” Erdoğan said April 3.
Previous to Erdoğan’s comments at a campaign stop in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had heralded that new military movements under a different name could be launched if necessary after the completion of the months-long Euphrates Shield Operation in Syria, which was launched on Aug. 24, 2016, in a bid to clear the country’s border of ISIL and stop the Democratic Union Party (PYD) from merging its Kobane and Afrin cantons.
“After this point, if we take action in the event that our security is threatened or if action is needed against DAESH [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,” Yıldırım told private broadcaster NTV on March 29.
His remarks came after the National Security Council (MGK) issued an announcement at the biannual meeting on March 29, marking the end of the operation.
“The Euphrates Shield Operation, launched to secure our country’s border security, to prevent DEASH 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 statement read following a meeting chaired by Erdoğan.
The Turkish military supported Free Syrian Army 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.