- Turkey has ended its seven-month military operation in Northern Syria, saying its southern border has been made safe from “terrorists”.
- During the operation it has back its allies among the Syrian rebels, the Free Syria Army.
- It has prevented the Syrian Kurdish forces from linking two pockets of territory they control in Northern Syria.
- Turkey has slammed its allies (apparently referring to the US) for backing the wrong kind of rebels in Syria, namely the Kurds.
- The Turkish National Security Council has lashed out against Western European states over their referendum campaigning spat with Turkish President Erdogan.
Turkey has completed “successfully” Operation “Euphrates Shield”, a military intervention in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the Turkish National Security Council has concluded.
Turkey’s military went into Northern Syria last year to beat back ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and, more importantly, to prevent the Kurdish militia YPG from linking two pockets of territory it controls south of the Turkish border.
Turkey views the so called People’s Protection Units (YPG) as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), a group using violence to fight for the autonomy or independence of the Kurds living in Southeast Turkey, which has been listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US
The Turkish military operation south of the country’s state border began on August 24, 2016, in cooperation with the Free Syrian Army, the Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups. Turkey has also been building a wall along its border with Syria.
The Syrian Kurdish militia YPG makes the bulk of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a grouping of rebels including also ethnic Assyrians, Turkmen, Armenians and Arabs, which opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but fights mostly against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Turkey’s operation in northern Syria has been successfully concluded, a statement from the country’s National Security Council read on Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
“The Euphrates Shield Operation, launched to secure our country’s border security, prevent [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] Daesh threats and attacks targeting our country, gives an opportunity to our displaced Syrian brothers to return their homes and continue their lives in peace and security has been successfully completed,” the National Security Council said in a statement.
The decision to end the military intervention in Northern Syria was made during a four-hour meeting chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It is noted that the Turkish military supported Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters with artillery and special forces during the operation.
According to the Turkish government, thousands of militants were killed in the operation. A total of over 50 Turkish soldiers also lost their lives.
The Turkish National Security Council also criticized “Turkish allies” for providing financial and military supplies to groups which are considered terrorist by Turkey, warning that would damage its allies’ relations with Ankara.
Its criticism was most probably directed at the United States but also at Russia, as Turkish President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have achieved rapprochement since last summer. Both Russia and the USA back the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG.
Slamming Western Europe
In its statement, the Turkish National Security Council also discussed “some European countries’ attitudes contrary to international law and diplomatic customs against Turkish politicians.“
This referred to the ongoing diplomatic spat between Turkey and key Western European countries such as Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands over restrictions on the campaigning by Turkish government ministers among Turkish expats in the said countries for the upcoming presidential republic referendum in Turkey.
“Measures that could be taken by our state to protect the rights of our citizens who have faced physical attacks have been discussed,” the statement added.
Turkey has criticized heavily Western European states after the authorities in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands banned several campaign rallies ahead of Turkey’s April 16 referendum.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan has caused outrage in Europe by comparing the bans to Nazi-era practices.
He has accused the European governments of taking sides in Turkey’s referendum by favoring the No campaign.