Turkey’s successful counterterrorism operations both within and beyond its borders, as well as fieldwork conducted by security forces, have caused recruitment to the PKK to fall radically, while many members of the group have surrendered claiming remorse for their participation.
According to Yeni Şafak daily, only 21 people have joined the PKK so far this year, compared to 5,558 in 2014, 703 in 2016, 161 in 2018 and 130 in 2019. Meanwhile, over the course of 2019, 273 members were convinced to leave the terrorist organization. Security forces are currently in contact with more than 12,000 families to convince their children to leave the organization.
A significant number of terrorists have started fleeing the PKK and surrendering to authorities. Once terrorists surrender, they are provided with various opportunities, including the right to education and the freedom to live without fear and oppression.
Many terrorists lack the courage to leave the group as they fear severe punishment if caught. However, once they surrender, they are able to contact their families freely and are provided with essential judicial assistance, while the Turkish state offers a variety of services to ensure their reintegration into society.
According to some former terrorists, the PKK ringleaders risk the lives of others to save their own and threaten those planning to surrender with torture.
Yeni Şafak reported that the National Intelligence Organization, gendarmerie, police and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) carried out 49,515 operations within Turkey’s borders. In operations during which drones and armed drones were used, 97 terrorists were killed, while 167 were caught alive.
Turkey has also focused on the organization’s logistical and economic networks to help bring about its collapse. To this end, Turkey has seized 421 guns, 202 mines, 291 hand grenades, at least 23 tons of explosives and at least 60,000 pieces of ammunition over the course of operations conducted against terrorist organizations in 2020.
Security forces also worked on cutting off the sources of revenue of the terrorist group by launching operations against drug trafficking. Terrorist groups, particularly the PKK, have exacerbated the booming regional drug trade. The group is accused of smuggling drugs to and from Europe as well as cultivating cannabis in southeastern Turkey as a way to fund its illegal activities.
Turkish police are experienced in dealing with international drug trafficking, as the country lies on a drug-smuggling transit route between Asia and Europe.
Thanks to security forces' efforts in trying to convince members to leave the terrorist organization, 714 have left in total since 2016.
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 for operations across the country.
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