Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the Turkish military has cleared most of the area where the PKK terrorists have a presence in northern Iraq, as Ankara continues to keep in touch with the government in Baghdad and the local administration in Irbil amid the latest counterterrorism operation.
“Right now we have taken most of the area under control, however, there are many caves in this area,” Akar told reporters on Sunday, adding that Turkish security forces carefully eliminate terrorists hiding in these caves.
Akar was at the Geyiktepe base on the Turkey-Iraq border, as the Turkish military carries out the newly launched Operation Claw-Lock in the area.
“Our only goal is to eliminate terrorists,” Akar said, adding that Turkey aims to destroy terrorists in their source. He noted that once the area is cleared, Turkey’s border will be fully locked against security threats and all entries and exits will be controlled by Turkish authorities. “Our borders are protected with the most advanced security precautions in the history of our Republic,” Akar said.
Some 56 PKK terrorists were eliminated in the operation so far, and most of the caves have been destroyed, Akar said, adding that the operation continues successfully as planned.
Regarding the situation in northern Syria, Akar said Turkey considers the YPG and PKK to be the same and the YPG/PKK terrorists occasionally carry out harassment fire and the Turkish military is currently analyzing some targets.
“We are determined to end terrorism,” he said.
Meanwhile, Akar said Turkey has eliminated 34,259 YPG/PKK terrorists in domestic operations and cross-border counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq and Syria.
“Right now nowhere is safe for the terrorists,” Akar said, adding that the PKK terrorist group is currently experiencing a downfall, according to testimony by captured terrorists and intelligence reports.
Some 1,819 terrorists were captured on Turkey’s borders since the beginning of 2022, while Turkish authorities prevented the entry of 125,574 people, Akar said.
The Turkish military launched Operation Claw-Lock against the PKK terrorists in northern Iraq on April 18. The operation targets the terrorists in the Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions in northern Iraq.
The new operation comes on the heels of Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle launched by the Turkish army in northern Iraq in 2020. Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle began in border regions of northern Iraq in 2020 to ensure the safety of the Turkish people and frontiers.
The PKK terrorist group often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Turkey’s southern border, to plot terrorist attacks in Turkey. The Turkish military regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq.
Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate terrorist threats posed against its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy away from targeting terrorist threats.
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