By Sertac Bulur
ANKARA (AA) - Fifteen PKK terrorists were "neutralized" in counter-terrorism operations across Turkey between Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, said the Interior Ministry on Monday.
The ministry said in a statement that security forces had carried out 1,022 counterterrorism operations in the past week.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
The ministry specified that five of the neutralized terrorists were killed and seven were captured while three surrendered, which included ranking PKK members in the region.
During the operations, 335 people were also arrested for aiding and abetting the PKK terrorist organization, and 27 others for their suspected links to Daesh terrorist organization. Another 518 people were arrested for suspected links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen is responsible for the July 2016 defeated coup, which martyred 250 people and injured some 2,200, as well as a longstanding plot to infiltrate and undermine the government.
In addition, 638 kilograms of explosive ordnance, six hand grenades, 13 weapons as well as nearly 1,700 pieces of ammunition were seized in nationwide anti-terror operations, said the ministry.
In operations across the southeastern provinces of Bingol, Bitlis, Mardin, Siirt and Tunceli, nine terrorist hideouts were also destroyed.
- 449 arrested for spreading terror propaganda on social media
In the same statement, the ministry said a total of 449 suspects had been arrested so far for spreading terror propaganda on social media about Turkey's operation in Syria's Afrin region.
After examining 934 social media accounts, the Turkish police’s cybercrime division launched legal proceedings against 260 suspects.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and the "utmost importance" is being put on avoiding harm to civilians. Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.