UPDATE - Turkish security forces 'neutralize' over 1,100 terrorists so far this year

UPDATE - Turkish security forces 'neutralize' over 1,100 terrorists so far this year

40 terrorists 'neutralized' last week, including those hiding out across border in Iraq, northern Syria, says National Defense Ministry official


By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – Türkiye has "neutralized" more than 1,100 YPG/PKK terrorists since the beginning of this year, including those hiding out across the border in Iraq and northern Syria, the National Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

"40 terrorists have been neutralized last week," a National Defense Ministry official told reporters at a briefing in the capital Ankara.

The total number of terrorists "neutralized" so far this year reached 1,102, he added.

Turkish authorities use the term "neutralize" to imply that the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

In Syria, the official said, all necessary measures are being taken to maintain security and stability in the areas of Türkiye's cross-border anti-terror operations, and terrorist attacks are responded to in kind.

Since January, 93 harassment incidents and attacks have been carried out by the YPG/PKK terrorist group in areas of Türkiye's counterterrorism operations, and 809 terrorists have been "neutralized" with the immediate response of Turkish soldiers, he added.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the terrorist PKK's Syrian branch.

Meanwhile, regarding the exercise carried out by the US with the terror group YPG/PKK in northeastern Syria's Qamishli district, the National Defense Ministry sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said the US continues to support the YPG/PKK terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh/ISIS, another terror group.

"On Aug. 15-17, the US and the YPG/PKK terrorist organization held a joint armed exercise in Haseke/Qamishli ... A terrorist organization cannot be fought by using another terrorist organization. In other words, the fight against terrorism cannot be done with terrorists," they added.

Ankara expects from friendly and allied countries to stop the aid and support to the YPG/PKK terrorists, and to give sincere support to Türkiye's fight against terrorism, the sources said.

Türkiye has long complained of the US working with the /YPG/PKK on the pretext of fighting Daesh/ISIS. Turkish officials say using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.

In 2013, Türkiye became one of the first countries to declare Daesh/ISIS a terrorist organization.

On illegal crossings into Türkiye, the official said thanks to additional effective measures, 5,282 people, including 380 terrorists, who tried to illegally cross Türkiye's borders, have been caught since Jan. 1. Around 141,400 people were prevented before they crossed the border.

Türkiye has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

The country, which already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, is taking new measures at its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.

- Construction of Pile-Yigitler road in Northern Cyprus

The Turkish Armed Forces continues to protect the rights and interests of Türkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the Aegean and Mediterranean, the official said.

Ankara is in favor of solving all problems through peaceful methods, in accordance with international law, good neighborly relations and the spirit of alliance, through mutual respect and dialogue, he added.

Turning to the last week's intervention of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in the construction of the Pile-Yigitler road in the territory of the TRNC, the official strongly condemned the "unacceptable intervention and unilateral attitude" by the peacekeeping force.

He added that it contradicts the impartiality of the peacekeeping force and fuels the deadlock.

"We emphasize once again that, as the guarantor state, we stand by our Cypriot brothers and sisters within the framework of international agreements and legitimate rights stemming from international law," he stressed.

The construction of the Pile-Yigitler road is a humanitarian project aiming to facilitate the direct access of TRNC citizens in the village of Pile to their own homeland.

The Greek Cypriot administration and the UN are opposed to the project.

Residents of Pile will be able to travel shorter distances and will not have to pass through British bases when crossing to the Turkish side when the 11.6-kilometer (7.2-mile) construction and repair work ends.

The first 7.5 km of the road will pass through Yigitler, and the second 4.1 km will pass through Pile.

The National Defense Ministry sources said that the UN did not object to the road work carried out by the Greek Cypriots in the same region in 2004, but they intervened in the Pile-Yigitler road, which has been wanted to be built since 2001.

"The UN Peacekeeping Force's intervention on the Pile-Yigitler road, despite saying nothing to the road constructed by the Greek Cypriots, is against the UN's principle of neutrality.

"We strongly condemn this. The TRNC will decide whether the construction of the road will continue or not," the sources added.

- Black Sea grain deal

Ankara's contacts with officials from the UN, Russia, and Ukraine regarding continuation of last year's landmark Black Sea grain deal continue in coordination with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the official said.

"Moreover, we express that we have been in favor of the riparian countries living in peace, dialogue, and prosperity in the Black Sea, which is known as the sea of ​​peace," he said, adding the status quo established by the Montreux Convention, which Türkiye has implemented in an "impartial, fair and restrained" manner, should be preserved.

Last month, Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea grain deal, which it signed last summer along with Türkiye, the UN, and Ukraine to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022. Moscow has repeatedly complained that the Russian part of the agreement was not implemented.

Ankara has been carrying out intense efforts and pushing diplomacy for the resumption of the deal.

Türkiye, internationally praised for its unique mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, has repeatedly called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war, which has now surpassed 500 days, through negotiations.

About a container ship which sailed from Ukraine's Odesa port last week and passed through the Istanbul Strait, the sources said Türkiye's stance on the grain initiative is clear.

"We are in favor of the continuation of the grain initiative as quartet, whose success and benefit has been proven before. We have always stated that alternatives other than this are not on our agenda at the moment," the sources added.

The Hong Kong-flagged container ship Joseph Schulte was the first vessel to depart from Odesa since Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal last month.

"Ukraine took the initiative last week and sailed its ship. There is no obstacle for commercial ships that have arrived safely to the Istanbul Strait to pass through Turkish Straits," the sources said, adding no other ship has sailed from Ukraine yet.

"For this to be an alternative way, it (ship sailing) must become permanent. No one knows what Russia's attitude towards the other ships will be. Therefore, let us express our stance again and express that we are in favor of the continuation of the grain initiative as a quartet," they added.

- Port in Libya

About the claims that Türkiye leased Libya's port of Khoms to deploy a military base there, the sources said they are "baseless."

"On Aug. 5, it was decided by the Libyan authorities to expel the civilian elements in the Khoms Military Sea Port area from the region. Thereupon, to protest this decision and create different perceptions in the public, those who did not want to leave the region, made unfounded allegations that the aforementioned part of Khoms Military Sea Port was evacuated to be given to the Turks," they added.

Military cooperation activities between Türkiye and Libya are carried out in line with the demands of the Libyan authorities, and in the form of consultancy at the Libyan Armed Forces training centers, the sources stressed.

"The decision taken by the Libyan authorities has nothing to do with us or our activities," the sources said, adding the issue was exploited through the evacuation of the port.

"It is considered that the unfounded news that the 'port will be allocated to our country' has been issued by third parties against Türkiye," they said.

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