ANKARA 

Turkish security forces have neutralized at least three terrorists in an air-backed operation in southern Turkey, the Interior Ministry said Saturday.

The terrorists were neutralized as part of Operation Yildirim-5 in rural areas of Hatay province’s Mt. Amanos, it said in a statement.

Gendarmerie forces seized three M-16 rifles and ammunition as part of the ongoing operation, it added.

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

The affiliation of the terrorists was not expressly given, but the terrorist PKK has been active in the region.

Turkey has launched a series of security operations to neutralize terrorists believed to be sheltering in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions.

Yildirim-1 Cudi was launched in the southeastern province of Sirnak on July 14, Yildirim-2 Cilo in southeastern Hakkari province on July 20, Yildirim-3 Mt. Agri in the eastern provinces of Agri, Igdir and Kars on July 27, Yildirim-4 in the eastern province of Tunceli on July 29, Yildirim-5 in the southern province of Hatay on Aug. 12 and Yildirim-6 in the eastern Bingol province on Aug. 19.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s branch in Syria, just across Turkey’s southern border.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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