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Turkey Army Chief Vows to Press on with Euphrates Shield Operation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier waves as they drive from the border back to their base in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey’s top army chief on Monday said the offensive in neighboring Syria dubbed “Euphrates Shield” would continue until the country’s borders were completely secured and “all terrorists” were routed.

“Our security forces have fought and will continue to fight shoulder-to-shoulder until all terrorists are routed, and our borders are secured,” Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar said in remarks carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Akar spoke after visiting troops in the Turkish border town of Karkamis that lies opposite the Syrian town of Jarabulus which was liberated from ISIS militants last month by Ankara-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

On August 24, Turkey launched an ambitious campaign inside Syria, sending in tanks and special forces to support opposition fighters in a bid to remove ISIS jihadists and Kurdish militia forces from its frontier.

Several Turkish soldiers have been killed by ISIS rocket attacks in northern Syria this month, and Turkey blamed the death of another soldier last month on an attack by Kurdish militiamen.

Turkey’s military said Sunday that its warplanes killed 20 ISIS militants in an attack on targets in northern Syria, while Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, renewed a pledge to destroy the group.

Warplanes had struck three buildings identified as belonging to ISIS, the Chief of General Staff’s office said in a statement.

A vehicle and motorcycle also were destroyed in the airstrike Saturday evening that came less than two days before a U.S.-Russia agreement on a cease-fire in Syria takes effect.

Erdogan reiterated his government’s commitment to eliminating ISIS in Syria and the threat the group poses to Turkey.

Erdogan said in a televised message marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that Turkey has a “primary duty” to its people to destroy ISIS and prevent it from staging attacks in Turkey.

He added that the Turkish government is determined to end the “scourge” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which renewed its 30-year insurgency for autonomy within Turkey after peace talks failed last year.