Turkey ends Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria

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Turkish soldiers fire an upgraded M60 tank during fighting alongside members of the Free Syrian Army against Islamic State (IS) group jihadists near the northern Syrian village of Beraan, north of the embattled city of Aleppo, on October 24, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Nazeer al-Khatib

Turkey announced on Wednesday that it had terminated Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched last August against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in the Syrian city of Jarabulus.

According to a statement released following a National Security Council (MGK) meeting in Ankara, Turkey has “successfully completed” Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched to secure the border, to prevent the threat and attacks of ISIL and to allow Syrians to return to their homes.

Speaking to Star TV, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım confirmed that the operation was over.

Yıldırım also underlined that Ankara was waiting for the US to make a final decision on whether Turkey will be part of an operation against ISIL-controlled Raqqa, or if Washington will go with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Yıldırım said the issue would be on the agenda during the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Feb. 28  that after taking control of Al Bab, Turkey’s next target in Syria would be Manbij, which was controlled by the YPG.

“We told this to our American friends. The PYD [the Kurdish Democratic Union Party] and YPG should move to the east of the Euphrates; the area should be left to the locals of Manbij,” said Erdoğan.

Six days after Erdoğan’s statement, the US announced that American troops had been deployed in Manbij for a “visible symbol that the enemy is cleared out.”

“This is a new effort, this is the first time we’ve had to do something like this, which is to ensure that we are out there as a visible symbol that the enemy is cleared out of Manbij,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters.

“There is not a need for others to advance on it in attempts to ‘liberate’ it.”

Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels drive ISIL from the border city of Jarabulus on Aug. 24, in a dramatic escalation of its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Turkey lost over 70 soldiers during Operation Euphrates Shield.

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