Turkey concludes Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria
Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" military campaign that began last year in northern Syria has been completed, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday, without specifying whether troops will be pulled out from the neighbouring country.
In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Yildirim said he did not rule out new military campaigns inside Syria under a different name.
In a Turkish National Security Council meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, the government confirmed the operation had been "successfully concluded".
"It was noted that the Operation 'Euphrates Shield,' which was started with the goal of ensuring national security, preventing the threat from Daesh and return of Syrian refugees to their homes has successfully completed," said the National Security Council in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State militant group.
In August, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria targeting IS militants and Syrian Kurdish militia fighters that Ankara says are "terrorists".
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have captured from extremists several towns including Jarabulus, al-Rai, Dabiq and finally al-Bab, where the Turkish army sustained heavy casualties.
The strategic town of al-Bab, just 25 kilometres south of the Turkish border, had been the extremists' last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.
Syria's government has been critical of Turkish military forces inside Syria and has called on the UN Security Council to demand Turkey to withdraw its soldiers.
Syria's conflict began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, but has turned into a brutal war pitting government forces, rebels, extremists, and Kurds against each other.
The war has killed more than 320,000 people and forced 4.9 million people to flee their country.