Turkey has eliminated 44 terrorists in anti-terror cross-border operations since an attack last week, defense minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday.
Responding to Anadolu Agency (AA) on the operations launched after three Turkish soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device blast, Akar said: "After the treacherous attack, we launched punitive operations against the detected targets" in the Operation Peace Spring area in northern Syria.
Three Turkish soldiers were killed when a bomb planted by terrorists went off on Jan. 8 in the Akçakale district of the southeastern Şanlıurfa province near Turkey's border with Syria.
Though the Defense Ministry did not reveal which terrorist organization carried out the attack, Akçakale lies near areas in northern Syria where the PKK terrorist group's Syrian wing, the YPG, is present.
The defense minister also underlined that Turkey expects all of its partners to fulfill the responsibilities outlined in signed agreements.
"We did not leave the blood of our martyrs on the ground, we will not let them go. We expect our partners in Syria to fulfill their responsibilities within the scope of the agreements. We can say that attacks from beyond our borders, which we consider to be planned, push our limits of tolerance and even exceed our tolerance limits."
Akar once again conveyed his condolences to the soldiers, their families, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish nation.
Turkey entered the new year with increased motivation, Akar stressed, emphasizing that it has adopted the method of eradicating terrorism at the source while also taking into account other countries’ territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Turkish forces have launched three cross-border operations in the last five years – Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019 – to secure hundreds of kilometers of the border strip and have pushed around 30 kilometers (20 miles) into northern Syria. Russian jets, Iran-backed fighters, Turkish-supported opposition groups, United States troops and Syrian regime forces also operate across the patchwork of territories in northern Syria, as does the YPG.
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 nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
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