Turkey has been the only nation that has exhibited true form in the fight against terrorism by engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Daesh through its two cross-border operations, Ankara said.
"As the only army that carried out hand-to-hand fight with Daesh, the Turkish Armed Forces neutralized over 3,000 radical terrorists of Daesh and enabled 320,000 Syrians to return to their homes with Operation Euphrates Shield launched on August 2016," the Ministry of Defense said on Saturday on its official website.
The ministry underscored that following the liberation of the northern Syrian town of al-Bab on Feb. 24, the operation reached its aim which is to completely remove Daesh from Turkey's southern border and prevent the PKK Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia from unifying its cantons while providing a terrorist-free zone in Syria that is more than 2,000 square kilometers.
The ministry stressed that the operation cleared 243 residential areas and 2,015 kilometers of territory from Daesh while eliminating more than 3,000 militias and over 21,000 Daesh targets. It also added that the liberated areas were cleared from improvised explosive devices (IED), establishing security and enabling 320,000 displaced refugees to return their country.
Operation Euphrates Shield launched by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) was initially meant to clear the border of the threat of terrorism from the Daesh and the YPG. Regarding the operation, Ankara had said that it is an act of defense since its cities and towns were under constant attack from both Daesh and the YPG, and that is why they should be driven from the border.
By successfully achieving its aim, Turkey managed to force the YPG to withdraw to the east of the Euphrates River while completely cleaning northern Syria of Daesh. In addition to the elimination of the threats of terrorism, the operation also showed that Turkey was in a true fight against Daesh while also establishing an example of how to fight terrorism. In the aftermath of the operation, Ankara has engaged in extensive reconstruction work for the cities in the area in a bid to turn life back to normal and open space for refugees to go back to their hometowns voluntarily.