The number of terrorists within Turkey’s borders has fallen to numbers as low as 189, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Saturday, underlining that Ankara will continue to limit the activities of terrorist groups.
Speaking during a meeting of the Turkey mukhtar confederation in the capital Ankara, Soylu said that Turkey has come a long way in fighting the PKK when looking at the terrorist group’s past activities in the country.
Meanwhile, Turkish forces on Sunday eliminated six members of the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, who were preparing to target areas in northern Syria that had been cleared of terror elements following Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in 2019.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9, 2019, to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
In recent years, Turkey has stepped up operations at home and across its borders against the terrorist group and has also convinced an increasing number of its members to quit the PKK.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in Turkey's eastern and southeastern provinces where the PKK has attempted to establish bases and a strong presence. The forces also conduct cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which they carry out attacks on Turkey and in northern Syria.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its border in northern Syria – Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019. These operations all aimed to prevent the formation of a terrorism corridor and to enable the peaceful resettlement of residents.
The PKK's leadership is struggling to recruit both militants and higher ranks, according to reports. Additionally, many terrorists are reluctant to enter Turkey from Iraq to carry out attacks due to the high number of casualties.
The number of terrorists who have laid down their arms through persuasion efforts this year now stands at 151, the Interior Ministry announced last week.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women and children.