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Ankara Confirms Concluding Euphrates Shield Military Operations in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish soldiers on an armoured personnel carrier escort a military convoy on a main road in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border. Reuters

Ankara – Turkey’s National Security Council announced on Wednesday concluding its northern Syria offensive, known as Operation Euphrates Shield.

Turkish army troops had backed factions of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in northern Syria successfully.

In a Turkish National Security Council meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, the government confirmed the operation had been “successfully concluded”.

Turkey’s “Euphrates Shield” military campaign that began last year in northern Syria has been completed, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday.

Yildirim said any other future military operations would be named differently.

“If something threatening our security happens in the future, regarding ISIS or something else, then this will be a new operation. Operation Euphrates Shield has ended, and any other future operations will be named differently,” he said.

The announcement, which left spectators surprised, followed the council concluding a 6-hour meeting chaired by Erdogan, which addressed internal and external developments, first and foremost the fight against terrorism and developments in Syria and Iraq.

In August, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria targeting ISIS militants and Syrian Kurdish militia men that Ankara considers “terrorists”.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have captured several towns including Jarabulus, al-Rai, Dabiq and finally al-Bab from extremists.

The announcement on ending the operation came a few hours before the visit of the United States Secretary of State to Ankara.

In recent weeks, the operation has approached a semi-complete halt after forces took control of the city of Bab, amid assurances from Erdogan and senior Turkish officials that the process will then move to Manbij, and then to al-Raqqa.

Manbij has recently become crossroad of all warring sides in Syria, where the regime, along with allies Russia and Iran and other influential parties such as the United States positioned themselves inside the strategic town.

Turkey has not been welcomed by the US administration with its proposals for liberating Raqqa without involving Kurdish People’s Units.