By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) - Turkiye has neutralized 44 terrorists in anti-terror cross-border operations since an attack last week, the national defense minister said on Saturday.
In response to a question by Anadolu Agency on the operations launched after three Turkish soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device blast, Hulusi Akar said: "After the treacherous attack, we launched punitive operations against the detected targets" in the Operation Peace Spring area in northern Syria, adding that "44 terrorists were neutralized" as a result of the operations.
Three Turkish soldiers were killed when a bomb planted by terrorists went off on Jan. 8 in the Akcakale district of the southeastern Sanliurfa province near Turkiye’s border with Syria.
Though the National Defense Ministry did not reveal which terrorist organization carried out the attack, Akcakale lies near areas in northern Syria where the YPG/PKK terror group is present.
Turkish authorities use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.