Turkish forces have neutralized 2,529 terrorists in operations within the country and outside its borders this year, the National Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
A total of 169 terrorists have been neutralized in 61 large- and medium-scale operations this month, ministry spokeswoman Maj. Pinar Kara told a news briefing in the capital Ankara.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
The PKK terror group often uses bases in northern Iraq just across Turkey's southern border to hide and plot terror attacks in Turkey.
Turkey launched operations Pence-Simsek and Pence-Yildirim on April 23 in northern Iraq's Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
Since Jan. 1, Turkish forces have also prevented over 92,500 people trying to illegally crossing the country’s borders, Kara said.
She added that 372 kilograms (820 pounds) of illicit drugs and 186 firearms were seized in anti-smuggling operations in the country.
Separately, Turkey dismissed over 24,253 military personnel since the 2016 defeated coup as part of its fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), while 1,201 others are facing trial, the official said.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and 2,734 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
- US military installations, F-35 issue
On US military installations in Alexandropolis (Dedeagac), Greece, Kara called them a routine, rotational move.
"We are following developments closely," she added.
Asked about the F-35 issue, she said Turkey has told the US about its expectations on the F-35 jets and it is currently in the evaluation phase.
According to ministry sources, a second meeting on the F-35 issue is expected to be held in the US in early 2022. The first was held in Ankara on Oct. 27.
Turkey paid $1.4 billion for the jet fighters but Washington took Ankara out of the program in 2019 as it bought the Russian S-400 defense system after its efforts to acquire US Patriot missiles were rebuffed.
The US claimed the Russian system was a safety risk, but Turkey argued the S-400 would pose no threat to NATO or its armaments because it would not be integrated into the alliance’s systems.
Ankara also repeatedly proposed setting up a commission to resolve the matter.