Turkish security forces have eliminated 1,212 terrorists so far this year in both internal and cross-border operations, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who met military personnel at a dinner in the southwestern Muğla province stated on Saturday.
He added that 352 terrorists were killed in Syria and northern Iraq in the past six weeks as part of its cross-border operations. Turkish forces continue to destroy terrorists' shelters, he said.
A terrorist belonging to the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, was nabbed trying to cross into the country from Syria, said the Defense Ministry on Saturday.
The ministry said on Twitter that the suspect was caught by border guards in the Suruç district of southeastern Şanlıurfa province. The suspect was later found to be a YPG terrorist and was handed over to gendarmerie forces, it added.
Furthermore, the Interior Ministry announced that another PKK terrorist surrendered to security forces.
After fleeing the terror group, the terrorist surrendered thanks to the persuasion efforts by Turkish police and the gendarmerie, the ministry said in a statement.
The terrorist joined the PKK in 2015, it added.
With the latest addition, the number of terrorists who have laid down their arms through persuasion efforts this year has reached 79, it said.
In recent years, Turkey has stepped up operations at home and across its borders against the terrorist group, managing to convince a growing number of PKK members to quit the terrorist organization.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in Turkey's eastern and southeastern provinces where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence and bases.
In addition to the blow those who surrender deliver to the group, interest in joining the PKK has fallen drastically in recent years. According to the statistics, while the number of people who joined the PKK was 703 in 2016, this number fell to 161 in 2017 and 136 in 2018. In 2019, the number fell to 108.
The PKK 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.
When surrendering, captured PKK terrorists are given the opportunity to confess in order to benefit from the effective remorse law and receive more lenient punishments.
In its more than 40-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 at least 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
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