Civilians in Turkey's eastern Muş province, who had to leave their hometown 27 years ago due to PKK terrorism, celebrate returning to their liberated villages following a series of successful counterterrorism operations by security forces.
The village of Kayalısu in Muş's Şenyayla region had to be evacuated back in 1993 due to the PKK terrorist threat. Consisting of 75 houses with a population of 450 people, the villagers have started to return to their hometown gradually after 27 years of displacement since security was re-established in the region.
Thanks to the heavy state investments in the village, the villagers are now able to resume their profession of animal husbandry.
Speaking on the return of the villagers, Special Provincial Administration General Secretariat Şeyhmus Yentür said the village has started to receive investments for its infrastructure, with a special focus on improving its transportation.
"Now that our state has taken the necessary protective measures, our people who had to be displaced, are able to return their villages. This is a pleasing development. In order for our citizens to be comfortable in their own village, we are working on infrastructure improvements," Yentür expressed.
Pointing at animal husbandry as the main source of income in the village, Yentür said the village has the potential to make a reasonable contribution to the province's economy.
"This region, which was cleared of terrorism through operations conducted by security forces, will now be able to develop through agriculture and animal husbandry," he stated.
Thanks to the counterterrorism operations, more and more villages in eastern and southeastern Turkey are being liberated from terrorism, and residents of the area are returning to their hometowns after decades of war with the PKK. On May 17, the mayor of southeastern Hakkari's Şemdinli district, Yakup Güven, alongside locals walked on a plateau cleared of terrorist elements. Liberated from the PKK recently, the plateau is located in Tekkeli village near the Iranian border. Güven and the locals reached the plateau by walking 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the city's center. After reaching the plateau, the group enjoyed the fresh air and took pictures holding Turkish flags. Speaking about the short trip, the mayor said they are enjoying spring in the terror-free region. Similarly, southeastern Diyarbakır province's Hazro district celebrated its liberation from the PKK by embracing nature. The farmers of the district began agricultural production on Sunday, with the harvest of organic strawberries being the focus of the process.
The mukhtar of Kayalısu village, Bilal Erez, expressed his and other residents' gratitude for being able to return to their hometowns.
"Years later, people have started to return to the village and started to engage in agriculture and animal husbandry. Our road has been paved with asphalt as well. We are quite happy. After all this work, the return to the village will gain even more momentum," he said.
According to Erez, most of the villagers had to sell their animals and move to major provinces such as Istanbul, Adana and Bursa back in 1993.
"We are thankful for our state," he underlined.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence.
The forces have adopted “ending terrorism at its root” and “attack rather than defense” strategies through its operations across the country.
Some 122,054 operations, including 116,650 in rural areas, targeted PKK terrorists in 2019 alone and have successfully detained and killed top PKK figures.
The latest update on the operations came on Sunday when Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced that the security forces killed three terrorists in the eastern province of Tunceli.
The terrorists were targeted by Turkish "hero" gendarmerie forces in an air-backed operation in the Ovacık countryside, Soylu said on Twitter.
"This weekend was a nightmare for the terrorist organization," Soylu said.
Over this weekend alone, 14 terrorists were killed in the country, he added.
Soylu did not specify the terrorist organization in his statement.
According to Interior Ministry data, there were 835 to 1,995 PKK terrorists in January 2017, while the number dropped to between 1,100 and 1,200 by January 2018, 755 to 876 in January 2019 and under 500 in January 2020, equating to an 83% drop over four years and the lowest figures in three decades.
More importantly, while around 5,558 terrorists joined the PKK in 2014, this number fell to 130 in 2019 and to 13 in the first five months of 2020, a whopping 70% drop year-on-year.
There has also been a surge in the number of terrorists laying down arms and surrendering to Turkish security forces following these series of successful domestic and cross-border anti-terror operations. Almost 50 terrorists have surrendered to Turkish forces since the beginning of 2020.
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