KILIS, Turkey

Turkey has neutralized 12 PKK terrorists since the killings of its two soldiers in northern Syria on Sunday, the country’s national defense minister said.

“We believe that this number will increase in the coming days,” Hulusi Akar told reporters on Monday during his visit to military posts in the southeastern Gaziantep province near border with Syria.

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

Nearly 18,300 terrorists have been neutralized since July 2015, Akar said, while 1,581 terrorists have been neutralized so far this year in cross-border operations in northern Iraq.

“Whether it is east or west of the Euphrates (river), our fight continues and will continue,” Akar said.

There is no difference between the YPG and the PKK, he said, adding: “We expect our allies to open their eyes and see this.”

Akar, along with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler and Land Forces Commander Gen. Umit Dundar, visited the 2nd Army Forward Command Post and the 6th Mechanized Infantry Division Main Command Post, where the troops in the north of Syria are dispatched and administered.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

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 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

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