Turkey is determined to clean up the PKK terrorist organization starting in northern Iraq, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Tuesday, noting that the terrorist organization poses a threat to 83 million citizens and the borders of the country.
Speaking in a virtual year-end evaluation meeting, Akar said, “By continuing our efforts with the same determination, we will save our nation from this terror scourge.”
Akar also underlined that a total of 30,416 terrorists have been killed so far since the "new strategy" was launched in the fight against terrorists on July 24, 2015.
He added that positions and shelters of terrorists were also destroyed in the operations in question.
Some 3,646 terrorists were killed in more than 200 operations carried out in Turkey and across the border, the defense minister announced.
Among the terrorists who have been killed, there are "ringleaders" from the so-called leadership of the terrorist organization, Akar said.
"Terrorists have been dealt a serious blow; they continue to be hit. We are committed to this. Our fight against terrorism will continue with an increasing tempo and a spirit of constant offensive," he said.
"We see that the so-called leadership of the terrorist organization is in great panic. They do not sleep in the same place for two nights, fear has engulfed the mountains, and they feel the breath of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on their backs. This struggle will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized," Akar said.
The number of PKK terrorists in Turkey now stands below 320 as a result of effective counterterrorism operations, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had said Tuesday.
Speaking at a meeting regarding witness protection, strategy and assessment, Soylu said the PKK terror group used to recruit thousands every year, and it once recruited 5,558 terrorists in a single year. However, the figures have begun to decline dramatically, thanks to successful anti-terror operations, he added.
"We have improved our field results on all security fronts and turned positive results into a trend (...) Today, Turkey has been more than successful than ever before in its fight against terrorism," Soylu said.
Most recently, two more PKK terrorists surrendered to security forces in Turkey as a result of persuasion efforts by gendarmerie forces, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry said in a statement that after fleeing the PKK terror group outside of Turkey, the terrorists surrendered to Turkish forces thanks to persuasion efforts by the police and gendarmerie forces.
The terrorists joined the PKK in 2012 and 2015, and they were active in Syria and Iraq, it added.
With the latest additions, the number of terrorists who laid down their arms through persuasion efforts this year reached 243, the Interior Ministry said.
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 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.
Since 2016, Turkey has also launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018, and Peace Spring in 2019.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people including women, children and infants.
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