The number of terrorists in the country has declined to nearly 500 for the first time due to effective anti-terror operations and strategies, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.
Addressing reporters in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, Interior Deputy Minister Tayyip Sabri Erdil said Turkey has switched to a new phase in its fight against terrorism.
“The terror group is in a state of psychological mess and dissolution. It is the first time the number of terrorists declined to almost 500 and came to a point that terrorists could not shelter in Turkey’s mountains,” he explained, referring to the PKK terror group.
Underling that Turkey has made important gains in its war on terror in the last three years, Erdil added that more than 1,100 terrorists surrendered on their own in this period.
“Some 7,000 terrorists were neutralized. In such a climate, it is not possible for Turkey to step back,” he said, adding that security forces will continue operations with the same speed, determination and comprehensive potential.
Over the course of its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Meanwhile, it was reported that 99 of the 104 terrorists caught during Operation Peace Spring have been arrested. The other five terrorists are still being detained.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to clear the area east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria of terrorists and to create a safe zone along the border, paving the way for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.