Turkish president vows to ‘annihilate all terrorists’

Turkish president vows to ‘annihilate all terrorists’

Turkish president vows to ‘annihilate all terrorists’

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged to “annihilate all terrorists,” repeatedly comparing the security forces’ operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to the War of Independence that led to the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

“Be sure that we did not allow and will not allow any steps that would hurt the souls of our martyrs or tear the hearts of our veterans. We are in an uncompromising fight to the end against all terror organizations,” Erdoğan said on March 17, hosting a ceremony at his presidential palace for the presentation of the State Medal of Pride of the Republic of Turkey to veterans and families of soldiers killed in the fight against the PKK.

“Sooner or later, we will annihilate all terrorists in this country with God’s permission,” he said. 

“Since last July, more than 300 of our soldiers and police officers have been martyred. But do you know what we gained? We have shown both our friends and our enemies that these lands are our homeland. This was important. This is such an achievement that we can compare it only with [the Battle of] Gallipoli and the War of Independence,” Erdoğan added. 

Turkey has in recent months been hit by its worst violence in years, after a fragile peace process shattered in July 2015following a two-and-a-half-year de facto ceasefire between security forces and PKK militants.

The Battle of Gallipoli that raged from April 1915 until January 1916 is said to have given birth to a national consciousness that resulted in the War of Independence led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Simultaneously with the ceremony in Ankara, similar ceremonies were held in 54 other provinces across Turkey on March 17. A total of 220 medals were presented to veterans and the families of soldiers killed in combat, with Erdoğan personally giving out 25 of them in the capital.

On March 16, the president strongly pressed parliament to lift the legal immunities of deputies of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which he accuses of siding with the PKK.

“Believe me, if these [deputies] get away with it, the resentment of our brothers who are currently fighting in the southeast and our brothers who have been martyred there would ruin us,” Erdoğan said.