Türkiye eliminated more than 2,100 terrorists in 2023 so far - M5 Dergi
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Türkiye eliminated more than 2,100 terrorists in 2023 so far

Abone Ol 

The National Defense Ministry announced Thursday that Türkiye has “neutralized” as many as 2,120 PKK/YPG terrorists since the beginning of this year, including those hiding out across the border in the northern areas of Iraq and Syria.

A total of 45 terrorists were targeted last week, a ministry official told reporters at a background briefing in the capital Ankara.

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

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, 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 its Syrian branch.

PKK/YPG terrorists often hide out across Türkiye’s border in northern Iraq and Syria, where they plot attacks on Turkish forces or the local populations.

Since January, the terrorist group has been behind 488 incidents and attacks in areas of Türkiye’s counterterrorism operations, and 1,475 terrorists have been “neutralized” through an immediate response by Turkish soldiers, said Defense Ministry press representative Rear Adm. Zeki Aktürk.

The ministry on Wednesday announced that the aerial strikes by the Turkish Air Forces Command destroyed 14 PKK terrorist targets in northern Iraq.

“Our Air Forces struck 14 targets in the Gara, Hakurk and Qandil regions in northern Iraq used by the separatist terrorist organization,” the ministry said on X, releasing a statement on the platform about the strikes, which took place at 7 p.m. local time (4 p.m. GMT). The targets that the airstrikes hit consisted of “caves, shelters, bunkers and storehouses,” according to the statement, adding that senior terrorists were “assessed” to be present in some of them.

They were carried out to “eliminate terrorist attacks against Türkiye and its security forces from northern Iraq by neutralizing members of the PKK terror group and other terrorist elements and to ensure border security in line with the legitimate self-defense rights arising from Article 51 of the U.N. Charter,” the statement added.

Turkish-made munitions were used as much as possible, it also noted. “During this operation, every possible precaution was taken to safeguard innocent civilians, friendly elements, historical and cultural landmarks, and the environment from any harm,” said the statement.

The Defense Ministry sources recalled that Turkish airstrikes on Wednesday destroyed PKK terror targets in northern Iraq after Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet al-Abbasi visited Ankara on Tuesday.

On a question about the possibility of establishing a new mechanism with Iraq to fight terrorism in the coming period, the ministry sources said: “We respect the territorial integrity of Iraq. Our sole aim is to target the terrorist organizations. We will continue to combat terrorism in cooperation with Iraq.”

“Our relations in the fight against terrorism with Iraq have been further developing recently. They are also disturbed by the presence of the PKK terrorist organization in Iraqi territories.

“We expect positive developments in the fight against terrorism in the coming period,” they added.

Illegal crossings

On illegal crossings into Türkiye, the official said thanks to effective security measures,13,502 people who tried to illegally cross Türkiye’s borders have been caught since Jan. 1, including 598 terrorists. Nearly 204,000 people were prevented before they were able to cross 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.

Red Sea coalition

In response to a question about Türkiye’s stance on the new international mission to be led by the U.S. to counter attacks on Israeli ships in the Red Sea, the ministry sources said: “We will act in line with our national rights and interests, evaluating the situation accordingly.”

Türkiye is an ally of the United States but among the most fervent opponents of U.S. support to Israel in the latter’s “war crimes” targeting the Palestinian population in Palestine.

The U.S. has launched a multinational operation to safeguard the Red Sea transport route amid attacks by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed Tuesday. The Houthis have stepped up the missile and drone attacks they began last month against international vessels sailing through the Red Sea, in response to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The attacks forced oil major BP and a slew of freight firms, including Maersk, to divert shipments normally made through the Suez Canal around the Cape of Good Hope, adding days to journey times and incurring higher costs.

Israel’s 10-week war on Gaza has drawn in the United States and its allies on the side of Israel and Iran and its Arab proxy forces on the opposing side, risking a wider regional conflict.

Austin, who was on a trip to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s headquarters in the Middle East, said the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain were among nations involved in the Red Sea security operation.

The group will conduct joint patrols in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. “This is an international challenge that demands collective action,” Austin said in a statement, announcing the initiative as Operation Prosperity Guardian. In a virtual meeting with ministers from more than 40 nations, Austin called on other countries to contribute as he condemned “reckless Houthi actions.”

Austin’s announcement, however, leaves many questions unanswered, including how many other countries are willing to do what mostly U.S. warships have done in recent days – shoot down Houthi missiles and drones and rush to the aid of commercial ships under attack.

The Houthis, who control large areas of impoverished Yemen, have threatened to target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and warned international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.

They have also fired missiles at Israel more than 1,000 miles away. The group said Tuesday the U.S.-led security initiative would not deter them. About 12% of world shipping traffic normally transits via the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia, passing then as well into the Red Sea waters off Yemen.

U.K. ships for Ukraine

Regarding the reports of the U.K. providing two mine-hunting ships to Ukraine, the ministry sources said: “After the creation of the Maritime Capability Coalition led by the U.K. and Norway on Dec. 11, the U.K. announced that it would provide Ukraine with two mine-hunting ships.

“However, this issue is part of the U.K.’s maritime support package initiated before Russia invaded Ukraine.”

A timeline for the dispatch of the mine-hunting ships has not been disclosed yet, the sources said.

The ministry sources said Türkiye fulfills its responsibilities for the continuation of peace and stability in the Black Sea, adding that the Montreux Convention is the most important tool contributing to this.

Ships are required to transit the straits in Turkish territories.

“Türkiye, at the beginning of the war, prevented the escalation of the ongoing conflict into the sea by closing the straits to the ships of the warring parties based on the Montreux Convention.

“It is our duty to rigorously implement the Montreux Convention until the end of the war,” the sources added.

Britain and Norway announced Monday that they were banding together to bolster Ukraine’s navy, saying that strong maritime forces were critical to countering and securing. As part of the effort, Britain is sending two mine-hunting ships, amphibious armored vehicles and coastal raiding boats to Ukraine, officials said.

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps and Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram announced the formation of a maritime capability coalition during a news conference in London, saying other nations were expected to join soon, making it a “truly global affair.’’

The European commitment to Ukraine in the face of the Russian presidential invasion remains firm, despite fears that U.S. funding will be cut off by a political dispute in Congress.

“Securing the seas is the only way to defeat a tyrant like Putin, to guarantee the long-term independence and prosperity for Ukraine and the whole of Europe,” Shapps said.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron last week trumpeted the success of Ukraine’s tiny naval forces against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as an example of why the United States and other democracies should continue to provide military aid to the government in Kyiv.

“Ukraine doesn’t even really have a navy, but they have managed to sink about a fifth of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” Cameron said at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington. “Well, that is … a remarkable thing.”

The new coalition will work with Ukraine to expand its forces in the Black Sea, develop a Ukrainian Marine Corps and enhance the use of river patrol craft to defend inland and coastal waterways, British authorities said.

The package of U.K. aid announced on Monday includes 20 Viking armored personnel vehicles, which can be deployed rapidly using helicopters or landing craft, and 23 coastal raiding boats that can be used to land small detachments of troops or as a firing platform for heavy machine guns. Britain also said it had transferred two Sandown class vessels, which are designed to help clear mines from coastal waters, to Ukraine.

However, the deployment of the craft has been stalled by Türkiye’s decision to prevent ships not based in the Black Sea from passing through the Bosporus, a move designed to prevent the body of water from becoming a theater of war.

Britain first announced a deal to sell the two mine-hunting ships to Ukraine in June 2021, before the conflict. Ukrainian personnel began training on the ships last year in Scotland.

“Our goal is to contribute to building a lasting Ukrainian naval capability,’’ Norway’s defense minister said.

“In the further work, I hope Norway, as a sea-faring nation, can contribute with maritime expertise, new technological solutions and innovative thinking.”

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