Turkey neutralizes 18,500 PKK terrorists since 2015: Defense minister

Turkey neutralizes 18,500 PKK terrorists since 2015: Defense minister

Turkey neutralizes 18,500 PKK terrorists since 2015: Defense minister

Turkey has “neutralized” 18,502 members of the PKK terrorist organization since July 24, 2015, and 1,976 have been “neutralized” since the beginning of this year, the country’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sept. 17. 

Speaking at a program organized for Veterans Day at the ministry, Akar said Turkey continues to fight for its security with determination both nationally and internationally.

Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Turkey has carried out a series of offensives against terrorist groups in northern Iraq since 2019, particularly against the PKK. The latest ones are Pençe-Şimşek and Pençe-Yıldırm operations launched this April in Metina and Avaşin-Basyan regions.

The terrorist group often uses bases in northern Iraq, just across Turkey’s southern border, to plot terror attacks in Turkey.

In its over 35-yearlong terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Akar also mentioned that the operations will keep going on till the neutralization of the last terrorist. 

Cyprus issue, Eastern Mediterranean

In addition to the fight against terrorism, the defense minister said that activities continue on land, at sea, and in the air, with perseverance and determination to protect the rights, relevance, and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus, and in the Aegean Sea.

“We sincerely believe that the problems between us and our neighbor Greece can be solved following international law, in the framework of good neighborly relations by peaceful methods and through mutual dialogue. We are making great efforts for this as well,” he stated.

“Our national issue should be known that two-state, sovereign equality-based, independent states in Cyprus are now the only way out, it should be seen by everyone. There is no chance for any project in the Eastern Mediterranean to survive where Turkey and Turkish Cypriots are not involved,” he said.

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.