Turkey Ends Euphrates Shield Operation In Syria. What Now?

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Dear friends, please, take a notice that Operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ started on August 24, 2016. Unfortunately, there is a mistake in the voiceover – it says that the operation started in 2017.

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Voiceover by Harold Hoover

On March 29th, Turkey officially declared that its military operation in northern Syria, known as 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 Operation ‘Euphrates Shield’, which was started with the goal of ensuring national security, preventing the threat from Daesh [ISIS], and returning Syrian refugees to their homes has been successfully completed,” Turkish National Security stated.

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.

The Turkish leadership did not announce that units of the Turkish Armed Forces were set to withdraw from northern Syria. In this light, we can recall Moscow’s public announcements to reduce forces in Syria which didn’t lead to a significant decrease of the Russian military involvement in the conflict.

Ankara’s Operation Euphrates Shield, launched on August 24th, 2016, resulted in the following achievements for Turkey:

  • Ankara seized control over the Azaz-Jarabulus-Al-Bab triangle in northern Syria;
  • Turkish forces prevented US-backed Kurdish forces from the linking up of Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern and northwestern Syria;
  • The Erdogan regime increased its influence in Syria and took back its role as an important player in the conflict, a role which had decreased after the start of the Russian military operation in the country.

The following goals were not achieved by Ankara:

  • Turkish-led forces failed to push Kurdish forces out of the northern Syrian town of Manbij. (Kurdish units were able to remain in the area because of Russian-US cooperation in preventing the Turkish advance);
  • The Turkish Armed Forces were not accepted as a participant in the US-backed advance on Raqqah.

At the same time, the Turkish military operation in Syria was likely unofficially coordinated with the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance. This, at least partly, helped Damascus, Tehran, and Moscow to achieve success in Aleppo City and to crush ISIS terrorists in the province of Aleppo. The liberation of the Deir Hafer Plains by government forces is a result of this effort.

Now, Ankara will continue to work to increase its military, political, and economic influence in the Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria. The Erdogan regime will likely use this area as a foothold for its own diplomatic efforts and for bargaining in the case of discussions regarding the political structure of post-war Syria.

Meanwhile, some militant groups that had been involved in Operation Euphrates Shield could be redeployed to the province of Idlib to take part in the on-going Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led advance in northern Hama. Units of Ahrar al-Sham, a major militant group involved in Turkey-led military efforts in northern Syria, are already participating in the battle 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 province. Ankara will try to use the Idlib option to further influence the situation in Syria via non-diplomatic means, supplying arms, munitions, and providing other support to radical groups operating there. The goal of these measures is to weaken the Syrian-Russian-Iranian axis and to strengthen Ankara’s own position in the region.

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  • Prince Teutonic

    Erdogun must go!

  • FlorianGeyer

    I feel certain that this adventure will end badly for Turkey.
    If there is any justice in the world , it should do.

    • Bill Wilson

      Tayyip may quit Syria altogether if the others providing funds to the extremists stop doing so once they decide it’s toward a losing effort. I doubt if Erdogan would care to pay their salaries along with providing them with guns and butter.

      • PZIVJ1943

        This would be excellent. I was surprised that HTS had so much financial support for this N Hama offensive. Saudi Arabia must have something to do with.
        Anyways I hope the Jihadi shitheads lose this battle quickly.

      • Jonathan Cohen

        If the prochoice Turks give up then the prochoice YPG can take Al-Bab with US weapons and Al-Bab gets abortion rights either way, as part of either Turkey or Rojava. Trump is looking prochoice to me.

        • That Guy

          Why are you so obsessed with abortion rights.?

          • Jonathan Cohen

            To save the galaxy.

  • Samuel Boas

    Erdogan will regret his wee trip to Syria.

  • Sadde

    Erdogan increasingly reminds of Saddam.

  • Jonathan Cohen

    I hope Turkey annexes Al-Bab because annexation means abortion rights as in Turkey (and Russia and Rojava), where occupation short of annexation certainly does not, especially if Islamist rebels remain involved. Abortion rights requires full annexation with domestic Turkish parliamentary control, not just Erdogan and rebel control.
    Most American’s would cheer if Russia bombed Saudi Arabia like Trump promised. Fewer, but still many Americans would cheer Iran for doing so.

    • Jens Holm

      Well, Erdogan has just told everyone again, that all families should have at least 6 children, but of course there is no turks in the area.

      • Jonathan Cohen

        Abortion rights in Al Bab needs the Turkish parliament and Turkish legal precedent; not just Erdogan.

  • Jonathan Cohen

    Most American’s would cheer if Russia bombed Saudi Arabia like Trump promised. Fewer, but still many Americans would cheer Iran for doing so.

  • Mikronos

    Does the ‘stoppage’ include the gangs of Syrian/Iraqi ‘freebooters’ employed as a cover for Turkish operations? Somehow I can’t imagine those pirates, standing-down’.

  • Shammua Mekonnen

    What next ? Turkey leaves, it appears that President Assad and President Putin, has things under there control. The US also, when they finish their mission, leave. It is time that world citizens stop the folly, and admit that before this deliberate destabilization, the overall society of Syria, was doing very well.