ISTANBUL, Mar 30: Turkey on Wednesday announced its military campaign inside northern Syria was over, without specifying whether it will pull its troops out from the neighbouring country.
Turkey’s top advisory national security council chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the half-year long offensive in Syria has been “concluded successfully,” in a statement.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also said the operation has been completed but did not rule out new military campaigns inside Syria under a different name.
“Euphrates Shield is over. A potential operation from now if needed will take another name,” Yildirim told the private NTV television.
It was not immediately clear if that signified a plan to withdraw Turkish troops, or if operations would continue elsewhere under another name.
In August, Turkey launched an ambitious military campaign inside Syria, dubbed Euphrates Shield, targeting Islamic State (IS) jihadists and Syrian Kurdish militia fighters that Ankara says are “terrorists”.
“From now on if there is anything that threatens our security, either Daesh or any other (group) and if we take another action, that will be a new operation,” the prime minister said, using an alternative name for IS group.
“Operation Euphrates Shield aimed at ensuring our country’s border security and thwarting Daesh terror group’s threat and attacks targeting our country … has been concluded successfully,” the National Security Council (MGK) said in a statement after a meeting in Ankara at Erdogan’s presidential palace.
Since the onset of the unprecedented operation, Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have captured from jihadists several towns including Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Dabiq and finally Al-Bab, where the Turkish army sustained heavy casualties.
The strategic town of Al-Bab, just 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the Turkish border, had been the jihadists’ last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.