ANKARA

Turkish security forces have “neutralized” 62 terrorists so far as part of Operation Claw-Tiger in northern Iraq, the defense minister said on Tuesday.

Turkey’s fight against terrorism will resolutely continue until the last terrorist is neutralized, Hulusi Akar reiterated during a weekly video conference attended by chiefs of land, air and naval forces as well as chief of general staff.

“On June 15, 81 targets belonging to terrorists were destroyed in six regions as part of the Operation Claw-Eagle,” Akar said.

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

Turkey’s operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle were launched in late May to ensure the safety of Turkish people and the country’s borders by neutralizing the threat of PKK, and other terrorist groups, who often use northern Iraq to plan cross-border attacks.

In its more than 30-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.

Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict 

“We strongly condemn the Armenian attack on the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan,” Akar said and extended his condolences to Azerbaijani people.

Akar said Turkey will continue to stand by the Azerbaijan Armed Forces against Armenia, which has illegally occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, since 1991 through military aggression.

Seven Azerbaijani soldiers were martyred, including a general and a major in a border clash with Armenian troops on Sunday.

FETO dismissals

Since 2016, more than 20,000 people employed in the military have been dismissed over their links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup in Turkey, Akar said.

Administrative actions were taken against a total of 24,060 people, he added.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 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.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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