482 miles of area 'cleared of' ISIL in northern Syria

Turkey to continue its presence in Iraq's Bashiqa as long as there is need, says Deputy PM Kurtulmus

482 miles of area 'cleared of' ISIL in northern Syria

World Bulletin / News Desk

A total area of 1,250 square kilometers (482 miles) has been cleared of ISIL extremists in northern Syria as part of the Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish Deputy PM said Monday. 
"So far, an area of 1,250 square kilometers has been captured by Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army forces and cleared of the extremist organization," Numan Kurtulmus told reporters during an ongoing Cabinet meeting in the capital, Ankara. 
Kurtulmus said Turkey's cross-border operation launched late August to drive ISIL out of the Manbij pocket -- a 98-kilometer (60 mile) strip of land along the Turkish-Syrian border -- continued as planned "towards the targeted point."
"It looks like - following the recent capture of [Syrian town] Dabiq - there will be an important relief especially along Turkey's southern borders, in the region near Kilis [province]," he said. 
ISIL has targeted Turkey’s border Kilis province with rocket shell attacks since January 2016, killing 21 people and injuring more than 80 others.
Free Syrian Army members took control of Dabiq town from the extremist organization ISIL on Sunday. 

Dabiq, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Aleppo and around 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Syria’s border with Turkey, has a symbolic importance for ISIL, as the group believes it will be the site of an end-times battle with non-Muslims. Dabiq is also the name of one of ISIL’s online magazines. 

Kurtulmus reiterated that the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq's Camp Bashiqa would continue. 

"Whenever the situation improves, and it is no longer necessary for Turkey to train and equip [the Sunni tribal forces], and to protect our people [in the camp] from ISIL and other extremist organizations, then Turkey may review the situation. But for now, Turkey will continue its presence in Bashiqa," he said.

Last December, Turkey sent 150 troops and about two dozen combat tanks to Bashiqa, located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) northeast of Mosul.

Ankara and Baghdad have been locked in a row about the presence of Turkish troops there. 

Ankara has insisted that nearly 3,000 Sunni tribal forces trained by Turkish forces at the Bashiqa base on the eastern outskirts of Mosul join the anti-ISIL offensive and remain in the city as a police force. Baghdad is still at odds with that proposal.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Ekim 2016, 15:25