Turkey’s effective domestic counterterrorism operations have dealt a heavy blow to the PKK terrorist group, as they successfully brought the recruitment levels to an all-time low and eliminated top leaders, a report said Friday.
Operations Kıran and Kapan have successfully brought the number of PKK terrorists down to 492 from around 3,000 in 2016, Türkiye daily reported, adding that the group has been able to recruit only 13 militants in 2020.
Turkish security forces have adopted “ending terrorism at its root” and “attack rather than defense” strategies through nonstop counterterrorism 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.
There were around 2,780 PKK terrorists in Turkey in 2016, according to the report, and this number has dropped to below 500 for the first time in 2020.
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.
Meanwhile, on May 6, Turkish security forces killed three more PKK terrorists in the Tunceli province’s Ovacık region.
One of the terrorists included Mehmet Fatih Demir, code-named Mahsum, who was a top figure on the grey category of the Interior Ministry’s wanted list and sought with a TL 500,000 ($70,000) bounty on his head.
Another terrorist recently killed in the Doğubayazıt district of eastern Ağrı province was also on the grey category of the wanted list.
The Interior Ministry's most wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red marking the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and gray, depending on the sensitivity of their criminal activity.
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 and bases. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also carries out cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks in Turkey, with particular attention paid to targeting high-level terrorists.
On Aug. 17, Turkey launched Operation Kıran in the country's southeast against YPG/PKK terrorists in the provinces of Van, Hakkari and Şırnak, and followed it up with the launch of Operation Kıran-2 on Aug. 27 in the provinces of Mardin, Şırnak and Batman. Eight more iterations continued, including Kıran-9 and Kıran-10.
Ramping up its fight against terrorists, Turkey launched Operation Kapan in February to eliminate terrorists in the southeastern Mardin province. The move follows Operation Kıran, again launched against YPG/PKK terrorists based in the country's southeast.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.