On March 29, Turkey officially declared that its military operation in northern Syria, known as the Operation Euphrates Shield, finished after achieving all its goals.
The decision was announced during the meeting of the Turkish National Security Council that was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“It was noted that the Operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ which was started with the goal of ensuring national security, preventing the threat from Daesh [ISIS] and return of Syrian refugees to their homes has successfully completed,” the Turkish National Security said in a statement.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also announced the decision during a televised interview with Turkish private broadcaster NTV, adding that future military operations will have other names.
“From now on, if we take action against Daesh or anything else that threatens our security, it will be a new operation,” the Turkish pro-government daily ‘Daily Sabah’ quoted Yildirim in its article.
The Turkish leadership didn’t announce that units of the Turkish Armed Forces were set to withdraw from northern Syria. Most likely the answer is no.
The Operation Euphrates Shield was launched by Ankara on August 24, 2017. The Turksih Armed Forces and pro-Turkish militant groups achieved next goals:
- Ankara seized control over the Azaz-Jarabulus-Al-Bab triangle in northern Syria;
- Turkish forces prevented US-backed Kurdish forces from the linking up the Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern and northwestern Syria;
- The Erdogan regime increased its role in the ongoing Syrian conflict and became able to participate in the negotiations along with Russia and Iran.
Ankara was not able to achieve next goals:
- Turkey-led forces failed to push Kurdish forces out from the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Kurdish units were able to reamin in teh area because of a Russian-US cooperation to prevent the Turkish advance;
- The Turkish Armed Forces was not accepted as a participant in the US-backed advance on Raqqah.
Now, Ankara will continue to work to increase its influence in the Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria. Meanwhile, some militant groups that had been involved in the Operation Euphrates Shield could be redeployed to the province of Idlib and to take part in the ongoing militant advance in northern Hama.
The Erdogan regime will also work to increase its influence in Idlib where mostly pro-Saudi Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) plays a key role among “opposition groups” operating in the area.