By Nilay Kar Onum
Turkey has launched anti-terror operations in both Qandil and Sinjar regions in northern Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Addressing locals in central Nigde province, Erdogan said: “We’ve started anti-terror operations in Qandil and Sinjar. We’ve destroyed 14 important targets with our 20 aircraft.”
“They [the warplanes] shot and returned but it has not finished yet. It will continue,” he added.
Referring to Qandil region, he said: “Our target is to drain the biggest swamp," adding that Qandil would no longer be a threat and a source of terrorism for Turkey and Turkish nation.
In recent days Turkish officials had suggested that the Mt. Qandil region in northern Iraq near the Iranian border -- where the terrorist group has its headquarters -- may be the target of a future operation.
Airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the terror group has its main base in the Mt. Qandil region, near the Iranian border, have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when the terrorist PKK resumed its armed campaign.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the U.S. and EU. In its terror campaign against Turkey, which has lasted for more than three decades, over 40,000 people have been killed, including women and children.
Stating that the terrorists would pay for the martyred people, Erdogan said Turkey has so far neutralized over 4,500 terrorists during Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region.
"We will drain the terror swamp in Qandil just like we cleansed Afrin, Jarabulus, al-Bab and Azaz from flock of killers," said Erdogan regarding the Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield operations.
Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in August 2016 and ended in March 2017, was aimed at eliminating the terrorist threat along the Turkish border with the use of the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish artillery and air cover.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from northwestern Syria's Afrin region.
On March 18, Day 58 of the operation, Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army members liberated the town of Afrin.