By Gozde Bayar
ANKARA (AA) – Turkish security forces this year have so far “neutralized” a total of 1,445 terrorists in both domestic and cross-border operations, the National Defense Ministry said on Friday.
"Ten YPG/PKK terrorists, who were attempting to infiltrate the Operation Peace Spring zone on May 19, were neutralized by our heroic commandos," the ministry said in a statement with the latest figures.
A total of 66 YPG/PKK terrorists have been neutralized over the last month in the area of the operation, in northern Syria just south of the Turkish border, it added.
Underlining that the country’s anti-terror operations continue without letup, it added that 1,445 terrorists have been neutralized since the beginning of the year.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralize" to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorist operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable peaceful settlement by locals: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
– Domestic security operations
Last month, Turkey carried out a total of 26 operations against PKK/KCK terrorist shelters as part of its domestic security operations, the ministry said.
It added that the country neutralized 104 terrorists and destroyed five anti-tank weapons, two anti-aircraft guns, three sniper rifles, two machine guns, 26 infantry rifles, 46 grenades, 3,200 pieces of antiaircraft ammunition, 3,700 pieces of light weapons ammunition, 30 pieces of mortar ammunition, 88 pieces of rocket launcher ammunition, and 67 improvised explosive devices.
As for anti-smuggling operations against the PKK/KCK, it said the country seized 110,000 packages of cigarettes, 72 kilograms (over 158 pounds) of drugs, and 98,000 drug pills.
PKK terrorists control some 80% of the drug trade in Europe and earn around $1.5 billion a year from illicit drugs, said Turkey’s interior minister in late 2018.
– FETO dismissals and trials
Since 2016, 19,075 military employees have been dismissed over links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup in Turkey, said the ministry.
Trials for some 4,682 others continue.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.