By Mehmet Tosun and Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey has never used banned arms in its anti-terror operation in northern Syria, the country's defense minister said Thursday.
"Turkey didn't use and will not use any ammunition or chemical weapons prohibited by international law and agreements," Hulusi Akar said, referring to Operation Peace Spring launched to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River.
Akar, who was addressing the parliament, said around 1,200 terrorists have been neutralized since the launch of the operation.
The minister noted that some 158 members of terrorist organizations were also neutralized since Turkey launched Operation Claw in northern Iraq.
Authorities often use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara reached two separate deals with Washington and Moscow last month, according to which it agreed to pause its operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone, where Turkey wants to repatriate millions of Syrian refugees it is currently hosting.
On May 27, Turkey launched Operation Claw against the PKK in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq, followed by its second and third phases in July and late August.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev