Turkey has carried out more than 300,000 counterterrorism operations since the failed coup attempt that took place on July 15, 2016, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Monday.
Speaking at a dinner for the families of the veterans of the failed coup, Soylu said Turkey lost many innocent lives over the years in its fight against traitors and terrorists who aim to divide the country.
He added that they have conducted a total of 324,243 operations in three years and made 69,496 arrests against all terrorist organizations. "We also neutralized 5,778 terrorists in that time," he confirmed.
"We conducted 9,903 operations against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in 2019," he said.
The terrorist group is accused of employing its infiltrators from the army's air, land, naval and gendarmerie forces to overthrow the government. Their 2016 attempt failed in the face of strong public resistance, and tens of thousands of people were detained or arrested in its aftermath.
The coup attempt took place one month before a planned purge of suspected FETÖ infiltrators in the military and was the bloodiest attempt to overthrow the government by the terrorist group, which had earlier used its infiltrators in the police and judiciary in 2013 in an attempt to seize power in two separate coup bids.
Following the putsch bid, security forces also stepped up operations targeting the civilian members of FETÖ, including those that had not actively participated in the attempt but were suspected of financing the terrorist group. Trials are also underway for FETÖ's nonmilitary members.
Turkey marks July 15 as Democracy and National Unity Day. The day is commemorated with events honoring those who lost their lives while defeating the putschists and to remember the bravery of the nation.
"This country has suffered a lot from betrayals," Soylu said. "Whatever you call terrorism and to whatever source you attribute it, we will eliminate terrorism from these lands and we intend to make Turkey the world's safest country."
Soylu underlined that besides Turkey's battle against terrorism, it has also been dealing with irregular mass migration and the global drug trade.
Yet, FETÖ is not the only terrorist group that Turkey has been conducting operations against. Simultaneous operations against the PKK have been ongoing in both eastern Turkey and northern Iraq.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, has killed, injured and disabled tens of thousands of people, including women and children.
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.
On May 27, Turkey launched Operation Claw against the PKK in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq. On Saturday, Turkey launched Operation Claw 2 as a follow-up to the successful ongoing operation in the Hakurk area which revealed new information on terrorist activities.
The Hakurk region is among the main locations PKK terrorists use to infiltrate Turkey or attack Turkish border outposts. The area is located some 30-to-40 kilometers south of the Derecik district of southeastern Hakkari province, bordering Iraq, and currently serves as the main base for terrorists between their headquarters in the Qandil mountains near the border with Iran and Turkey.
Another terrorist group that is being targeted by Turkey is Daesh. Turkish security forces have been involved in a long-running campaign to rid the country of Daesh terrorists. The terrorist group is blamed for a string of terror attacks in Turkey that killed dozens of people over the past three years in Istanbul and Ankara as well as cities in the southeast.
Foreigners looking to join Daesh in Syria have mostly attempted to use Turkey as their crossing point. Turkey has taken significant measures against foreign Daesh members and has urged Western countries for intelligence cooperation.
According to official figures, some 2,000 people were arrested and 7,000 others deported in operations against Daesh in Turkey, while around 70,000 people were denied entry to Turkey over their suspected links to the terrorist group.
Security forces have also foiled at least 10 attacks. Figures show that some 18,500 suspects are currently being monitored for links to the terrorist group after being identified at airports upon arrival.