UPDATE - Turkish security forces 'neutralized' over 1,000 terrorists so far this year

UPDATE - Turkish security forces 'neutralized' over 1,000 terrorists so far this year

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

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By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – Türkiye has "neutralized" more than 1,000 PKK/YPG terrorists since Jan. 1, including those hiding out across the border in Iraq and northern Syria, the National Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

"Sixty-seven terrorists have been neutralized in the 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 1,062, 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 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, 91 harassment incidents and attacks have been carried out by the YPG/PKK terrorist group in areas of Türkiye's counterterrorism operations, and 777 terrorists have been "neutralized" with the immediate intervention 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.

On illegal crossings into Türkiye, the official said thanks to additional effective measures, 4,931 people, including 369 terrorists, who tried to illegally cross Türkiye's borders, have been caught since Jan. 1. Around 138,000 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.


- Türkiye to take command of NATO-led KFOR

About Turkish soldiers who were deployed as part of a NATO force to maintain order amid tensions in Kosovo, the official said the task of Turkish commando battalion is planned to continue until the beginning of September.

In July, Türkiye deployed troops to Kosovo at the request of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command amid tensions in the Balkan country.

Tensions rose in Kosovo following the election of ethnic Albanian mayors in four Serb-dominated municipalities in the country's north in April. Serbs had boycotted the elections, and afterwards protested the results and tried to block the mayors from taking office.

"In addition, the Kosovo Force (KFOR) command will be taken over by our country for one year starting from October," the Turkish official said.

The National Defense Ministry sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said Italy has been carrying the command for many years, and "for the first time in many years, there will be a change."


- Black Sea grain deal

Regarding the news that a ship waiting in Ukrainian ports had left the port and was heading towards the Turkish Straits, the sources said: "We have been stating our stance openly and clearly from the beginning. There is a grain corridor with proven success and usefulness."

Under the landmark deal, around 33 million tons of grain was shipped from Ukrainian ports, the sources said, adding: "Our efforts are entirely in the direction of re-activating this grain initiative."

There is no alternative way to the Black Sea grain deal, they stressed.

On July 17, Russia suspended its participation in the deal, which it signed last July along with Türkiye, the UN, and Ukraine to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February. But even when renewing the deal in previous months, Moscow has complained that the Russian part of the agreement was not being implemented.

Turkish sources said other countries are working on alternative routes, adding: "We are following these developments closely. The problem here is whether commercial ships can safely reach the Turkish Straits in this conflict environment. There is no problem with ships reaching the Turkish Straits passing through the straits."

Earlier, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the first vessel left Odessa port on Wednesday after the suspension of the Black Sea grain initiative in mid-July.

"Container ship JOSEPH SCHULTE (Hong Kong flag) is proceeding through corridor established for civilian vessels to/from the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. This transport corridor will be primarily used to evacuate ships that were in ports at the time of the full-scale invasion of the Russia," Kubrakov said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Ankara has been carrying out intense efforts and pushing diplomacy for resumption of the Black Sea grain deal. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously invited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to Türkiye in August to discuss 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, now over 500 days old, through negotiations.

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