The use of armed drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been effective in conducting counterterror operations, according to a report by the Interior Ministry, which revealed that 550 of 2,000 terrorists who were killed in rural areas were neutralized by the drones.
Blasting recent allegations that "the drones were killing civilians," Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu emphasized that the drones are being used in the counterterrorism fight and operations will continue without causing any casualties among Turkish soldiers and civilians.
Minister Soylu has stated that accusations are being fueled by aims to end the successful counterterror operations. "Our security forces did not harm a single one of our citizens in that region, and it will never do such a thing. Our fight is against the terrorists," Soylu said during the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) ordinary congress in Hayrat of northern Trabzon province on Sept. 9.
In the report prepared by the Interior Ministry, it is stated that the use of armed drones, which are also effective in unfavorable weather conditions, have limited the mobility of terrorists since they do not have any place to hide and no way to escape. As the operations are controlled aerially, the risk of casualties has been minimized, according to the report. A high number of terrorists have been eliminated in rural areas as a result of the recent operations.
While the contributions of drones to the counterterrorism fight have been stressed by both the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry, there have been some accusations raised against armed drones. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu recently claimed that armed drones have caused the deaths of civilians - a claim that was immediately rejected by the Defense Ministry. An investigation has also been launched regarding Tanrıkulu's accusations.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently voiced his criticism in response to the CHP's accusations, stating that he expects CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to provide an explanation for the accusations while asking Tanrıkulu which side he supports. Erdoğan reiterated that the fight against terrorism will continue until terrorism is eradicated.
Meanwhile, Sezgin Tanrıkulu did not shift his stance regarding the allegations he made, saying that he is obliged to bring up this issue as a deputy. He also claimed that the investigation violates the Turkish Constitution, on the grounds that the allegations were made during his speech in Parliament, pointing to the immunity of chairmen. Tanrıkulu argued that the investigation has been prompted as a result of the criticism of the President Erdoğan.
Criticizing the CHP for its stance regarding counterterror operations, Minister Soylu warned the CHP against using PKK-inspired rhetoric and against being a "mouthpiece" for the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
The minister stressed that counterterror operations will continue resolutely, adding: "In four-to-five days, 50 terrorists have been killed by our soldiers. We have kicked off new efforts since the beginning of September," he added.