Turkey Ends 'Euphrates Shield' Operation in Syria

"But it also means that the Turkish military will not, in all likelihood, take part in further operations other than defending the current territory of Euphrates Shield", he told AFP, of the Turkish announcement.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday arrived in Turkey where he will hold high-level discussions on how to tackle the Islamic State (IS) terror group, officials said.

Turkey has called an end to its seven-month Euphrates Shield military campaign in northern Syria, reported global media.

Turkey launched the offensive last August to push Islamic State militants away from its border and also to stop the advance of local Kurdish fighters.

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.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey wants to work with its allies to capture the IS bastion of Raqa in Syria but without the involvement of Syrian Kurdish militia.

Turkey is anxious that a movement by Syrian Kurds would lead to a self-governing region similar to an autonomous rule secured by Kurds in Iraq and thereby influence the Kurdish minority within its own territory to initiate a similar rule.

The Turkish operation was also aimed at preventing Kurdish YPG militias from crossing the Euphrates River westwards and linking up with mainly Kurdish areas there. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of PKK militants who have fought a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey and are seen as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.

Tillerson is expected to say the arrest of Halkbank deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla is a matter for the USA justice authorities and not political.

  • Leroy Wright