Turkey says its operations in Syria will continue until the whole city of Manbij is liberated from Daesh.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the announcement on Sunday, after the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group claimed it had captured the town of Dabiq, located about 40 kilometers northeast of Aleppo and around 10 kilometers south of Syria’s border with Turkey.
He added that the town is now completely free of Daesh and that FSA also took control of Dabiq’s neighboring villages of Sawran and Osman.
Cavusoglu noted that the FSA will now advance towards the city of al-Bab, located some 30 kilometers from the Turkish border.
“They (Free Syrian Army) have gained major successes in northern Syria and life is getting back to normal there. That’s what we want to see in Syria,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman also said now that Dabiq has been secured, Turkey-backed militants will continue until the whole border area is secured.
“Strategically, it is important that the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army forces will continue their advance toward al-Bab, a key terrorist stronghold,” said Ibrahim Kalin.
“Operation Euphrates Shield will continue until we are convinced that the border is completely secure, terrorist attacks against Turkish citizens out of the question and the people of Syria feel safe,” he added.
While Ankara has tried to project its incursion as a campaign against Daesh, many observers say it is chiefly aimed against Syrian Kurds and staking out a foothold inside Syria.
Turkey has long been criticized for refusing to seriously fight Takfiri terrorists. The country stands accused of allowing potential militants to use its territory for travel and shipment of arms into Syria and buying smuggled oil from terrorists.