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Turkey ends military 'Euphrates Shield' operation in Syria: PM Yildirim

Turkish prime minister says in television appearance that 'Euphrates Shield' was successful
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (AFP/file photo)

Turkey has now ended the "Euphrates Shield" military operation it began in Syria last August, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Yildirim said the operation had been successful. But he did not rule out new military campaigns inside Syria, and said any further operations would be carried out under a different name.

"Operation Euphrates Shield has been successful and is finished. Any operation following this one will have a different name," Yildirim said in an interview with broadcaster NTV.

"From now on if there is anything that threatens our security, either Daesh or any other [group] and if we take another action, that will be a new operation," the prime minister said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group.

After a Turkish National Security Council meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the government said that Euphrates Shield was "concluded successfully".

"Operation Euphrates Shield aimed at ensuring our country's border security and thwarting Daesh terror group's threat and attacks targeting our country ... has been concluded successfully," the National Security Council (MGK) said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if that signified a plan to withdraw Turkish troops, or if operations would continue elsewhere under another name.

In August, Turkey launched the ambitious military campaign inside Syria, targeting IS militants and Syrian Kurdish militia fighters that Ankara says are "terrorists".

Turkey's announcement comes one day before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in the country to meet with officials on the war in Syria.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels captured several towns from IS including Jarabulus, al-Rai, Dabiq and finally al-Bab, where the Turkish army sustained heavy casualties.

The strategic town of al-Bab, just 25km south of the Turkish border, had been the militants' last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

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

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.