Security forces carried out roughly 68,500 nationwide counterterrorism operations last year, Turkey's Interior Ministry said Thursday.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency's (AA) editors' desk in the capital Ankara, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 40,000 of these operations were conducted against members of the PKK terrorist organization, 25,000 against the cult accused of orchestrating last year's defeated coup, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), and over 2,100 against Daesh.
Touching on the significance of drones, Minister Soylu said Turkey's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and armed drones have played an important role in dealing with the terror threat. "We have significantly crippled the PKK's mobility through the use of UAVs, monitoring intelligence, ongoing assessments and monitoring," he said, referring to UAVs and armed drones as "one of Turkey's most significant innovations of the last few years."
Minister Soylu said UAVs have been used in some 2,600 hours of counterterror operations this year, adding that the country's counterterrorism teams are also targeting people who finance terror in Turkish cities. The minister added that the PKK is seeing a 30-year low in terms of recruitment and membership, something that has caused "serious demoralization" in the terror group.
Number of refugees in Turkey reaches 3.2 million
Meanwhile, Minister Soylu said the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached 3.2 million. "A total of 330,744 refugees are staying in our camps according to ministry records," he said.
Soylu explained: "We currently have around 250,000 migrants from Iraq. There are also migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia." Soylu went on to note, "There are around 4.5 million migrants in Turkey."
$1.5 million in revenue goes to the PKK
"There is a serious problem in Turkey regarding drugs. We need to solve this problem, because it is also a terror issue," said Soylu. "The PKK currently generates $1.5 million in revenue from illegal drugs," he added. The minister went on to note that bonsai and other synthetic drugs are being smuggled to Turkey from Europe, and the former is not a transit country, but the destination. Over the last year, operations targeting illegal drug production and trafficking have tripled, and drug raids have doubled," he continued.