Turkey 'neutralized' 2,442 terrorists over last year
Terrorists neutralized since beginning of 2018 include 74 senior members, says Turkish Defense Ministry
By Baris Gundogan and Sarp Ozer
The Turkish military has "neutralized" over 2,400 terrorists since the beginning of 2018, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
The 2,442 terrorists neutralized include 74 senior members, said the ministry.
Of those neutralized terrorists, 1,801 were killed, 186 others were captured while injured, 334 surrendered, and 121 others were caught unharmed, Lt. Cmdr. Nadide Sebnem Aktop told reporters in the Turkish capital Ankara.
A total of 1,417 guns, 1,194 heavy weapons, and 20 tons of explosives were also seized, she said.
She added: "88 Turkish security forces staff were martyred in operations and 270 others were injured," she added.
Since the defeated 2016 coup bid by the FETO terror group, "as part of the fight against FETO, 15,213 personnel have been dismissed," Aktop said.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (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.
Operations Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch
Separately, Aktop said that Turkish army neutralized at least 3,000 Daesh terrorists in its Operation Euphrates Shield and aided in the return of some 300,000 Syrians to Syria.
She said 67 soldiers were martyred and 94 injured in Operation Euphrates Shield.
Turkey has conducted two successful cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 -- Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations -- both meant to eradicate the presence of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.
Aktop said that Turkey neutralized 4,608 terrorists in Operation Olive Branch, while 55 Turkish soldiers were martyred and 243 injured.
Idlib and expected new operation
The ministry also said that efforts to uphold the agreement reached last September on Idlib, Syria are ongoing, despite provocations in the region.
"All efforts are being made to maintain the cease-fire and stability under the Sochi agreement. Our close cooperation with Russia continues along these lines," said Defense Minister Hulusi Akar last week.
Following a meeting last September in the Russian city of Sochi between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib.
Ankara and Moscow also signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the “stabilization” of Idlib's de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will do joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
About Turkey's expected anti-terror operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, Aktop said that the Turkish Army's goal is to protect its borders, ensure people’s safety, and avoid the formation of a terror corridor south of Turkey.
"We don't have any problem with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, the Turkmen and other ethnic and religious groups,” she said.
“The Turkish Armed Forces is fighting the PKK/YPG and Daesh terror groups, which threaten all ethnic and religious communities in the region."
Citing the threat to Turkey as well as Syria's territorial integrity, Turkey has said it will soon launch a counter-terrorist operation against the YPG/PYD in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, near the Turkish border.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people. The YPG/PYD is the group's Syrian branch.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.