Turkish forces have neutralized 1,595 terrorists this year in operations both within the country and outside its borders, the National Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

Over the last two months, Turkish forces carried out 40 domestic and cross-border anti-terror operations against such groups, including Daesh/ISIS, PKK/YPG/KCK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), ministry spokeswoman Maj. Pinar Kara told a press conference.

The figure includes 215 terrorists neutralized in the Pence-Simsek and Pence-Yildirim operations in northern Iraq.

Nearly 300 caves and shelters and over 600 landmines were destroyed, while dozens of weapons and ammunition were held, she added.

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 the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Separately, Turkey has dismissed over 23,400 military personnel since the 2016 defeated coup as part of its fight against FETO, while 1,869 others are still 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.

Border security

Referring to images recently shared on social media allegedly showing illegal crossings over Turkey’s eastern border, Kara said that the “sensitivity of the Turkish Armed Forces on borders is known by everyone. Most of the images shared on social media about illegal crossings are out of date and do not belong to our borders.”

She underlined that there had been no increase in crossings over the Iranian border, adding that necessary measures had been taken against a possible future rise.

“As the Turkish Armed Forces, our fight against illegal crossings continues with determination,” she said.

In the last two months, a total of 16,786 people trying to illegally cross into Turkey were caught, and 31,545 were prevented from doing so, she added.

Security forces also seized 29,516 packs of cigarettes, 369 kilograms of drugs, 467 mobile phones, and six miscellaneous weapons, noted the spokeswoman.

Highlighting that the Turkish military prevented harassment and terror attacks to maintain the security and peace environment in Syria, she said that 229 terrorists, including members of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization, were neutralized in the last two months.

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

The country has since been attacked by the terror group multiple times, with over 300 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks, and four armed assaults.

In response, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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