Türkiye’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said security forces eliminated as many as 114 terrorists in cross-border operations into the north of Iraq and Syria weeks after a PKK attack that killed nine soldiers and injured four others in the Metina district near the Turkish border of Iraq.
A total of 2,396 terrorists have been “neutralized” in Iraq and northern Syria since Jan. 1, 2023, a ministry official told reporters in the capital, Ankara.
Turkish authorities use the term “neutralize” to imply that the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the United States, Britain and the European Union – is responsible for over 40,000 civilian and security personnel deaths in Türkiye during an almost four-decadelong campaign of terror.
Since Turkish operations have driven its domestic presence to near extinction, the PKK has moved a large chunk of its operations to northern Iraq.
Ankara maintains dozens of military bases there, and it regularly launches operations against the PKK, which operates a stronghold in the Qandil Mountains, located roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the Turkish border in Irbil province, although the area is under de jure control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Both MIT and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly conduct cross-border operations in these regions, particularly in northern Iraq, where the PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which they carry out attacks against Türkiye.
Türkiye also battles the PKK’s Syrian offshoot, the YPG, which has occupied several resource-rich provinces in northern Syria after taking advantage of a power vacuum created by the civil war.
Since Jan. 1, 2023, the terrorist group carried out 560 attacks falling under Türkiye’s counterterrorism operations in Syria and 1,605 terrorists have been “neutralized,” said the official.
On illegal crossings into Türkiye, the official said thanks to adequate security measures, 307 people trying to cross Türkiye’s borders illegally have been rounded up since Jan. 1, 2024.
A total of 8,723 people were prevented from crossing the borders this year.
Türkiye has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
The country, which already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, is taking new measures at its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.
In response to a question about the current situation in the ongoing Claw anti-terrorism operations in northern Iraq conducted by Türkiye, sources from the ministry said these operations had enabled Ankara to achieve “significant gains” in preventing the terrorist organization’s movement in northern Iraq and restricting actions aimed at Türkiye.
Thanks to the “base areas strategy,” a secure line has been established along the Türkiye-Iraq border strip with an average depth of 15 to 30 kilometers, they added.
A significant number of PKK terrorists, including high-ranking leaders of the terror group, have been “neutralized,” the sources noted.
About whether a new ground operation would be conducted following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent statements, the ministry sources said: “As expressed by our esteemed President, conducting operations for the security of our country, our people and our borders is Türkiye’s most natural right in terms of international law and legitimate defense.”
“There should be no doubt that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will continue to do whatever is necessary at the needed place and time, just as they have done up until now,” they added.