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Turkey Says ‘Euphrates Shield’ Campaign Ends In Northern Syria

  • RFE/RL

Turkish Army tanks drive near the Syrian border after the August launch of the military campaign.

Turkey has announced it is ending its Euphrates Shield military campaign near the border region in northern Syria, but it did not immediately say whether it was pulling its troops out of the war-ravaged country.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on March 29 said the operation was "successful and is finished."

But he did not rule out future operations in Syria under a different campaign name.

Turkey launched Euphrates Shield last August, with troops, tanks, and warplanes backing Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels battling to push Islamic State (IS) extremists away from the Turkish border region.

FSA troops have also been fighting Syrian Kurdish fighters that Ankara says are "terrorists."

"From now on, if there is anything that threatens our security, either [IS] or any other [group], and if we take another action, that will be a new operation," Yildirim said.

Turkey and the United States have been supporting various factions fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran back Assad.

U.S. and Turkish officials do not agree on the opposition to Assad, with the Americans supporting many Kurdish fighters, including the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, part of the larger Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

IS fighters also became involved, gaining large swathes of land in Syria as well as in Iraq.

The militant group has been losing ground and is holding out in its last Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, as a U.S.-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance attempts to encircle the city for a final assault.

Turkey has troops remaining near the border. It has never disclosed how many troops were involved in Euphrates Shield.

Turkey has been working closer with Russia in recent months, brokering a cease-fire and sponsoring peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The conflict began in March 2011 when protests broke out against Assad's government.

Since then, more than 300,000 people have been killed and millions more have been displaced by fighting that has created one of the largest migrant crises in Europe since World War II.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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