Turkish Counterterrorism Operations: Decisive Strikes Against PKK and YPG

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Turkey has been recognized as a major player in countering terrorism, persisting in efforts against terrorism in all its forms. Over the last decade, Turkey has executed vast operations against designated terrorist groups like the PKK and YPG. Turkish security strengths have destroyed more than 600 terrorists belonging to the PKK and its Syrian branch YPG so far in 2024, including 38 concealing across the border between Iraq and Syria.  A total of 646 terrorists have been eliminated with 268 in northern Iraq and 378 in northern Syria since Jan. 1, 2024. One PKK terrorist who ran from shelters in northern Iraq renounced at the Habur border post, according to Turk Officials. 

PKK terrorists often conceal in northern Iraq to plan cross-border attacks in Türkiye. Since 2016, Ankara has established a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its boundary in northern Syria to prevent the appearance of a terror corridor and enable the peaceable settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

In its almost 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – documented as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the U.S. and the EU – has been liable for the casualties of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Turkey’s response implicated a series of airstrikes and operations to disassemble PKK targets, including caves, bunkers, shelters, and oil facilities. The operations, headed by Defense Minister Güler, sought to deliver a strong message of deterrence against the terrorist group. Additionally, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) declared the neutralization of Erdinc Bolcal, codenamed Ali Xebat, a top-ranking PKK member liable for the Silan Guyi Academy. Bolcal, who delivered ideological and military training to terrorists, was eliminated in a targeted operation in Sulaymaniyah.

In Dec 2023 in reaction to the attacks by the PKK terrorist group in northern Iraq, Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense proclaimed the elimination of 26 terrorists in airstrikes taken out in both Iraq and Syria. The retaliatory actions came following the killing of 12 soldiers in PKK attacks. The ministry determined that the airstrikes targeted terrorist prey and resulted in the neutralization of 26 terrorists. The operations concentrated on areas along the Turkish border with Iraq and Syria, parts that have historically been preferred hideouts for the PKK.

Concerning illegal border crossings into Türkiye, Turk Officials expressed that 82 people, including two associates of terrorist organizations, were captured while attempting to cross the border. Another 2,572 people were contained from crossing the border, which caught droves of irregular migrants attempting to make their path to Europe through Türkiye. “The number of people captured while attempting to cross our borders illegally since Jan. 1 has risen to 2,003. The number of people who have been dissuaded from crossing the border without success has surpassed 39,412,” According to the Turk administration.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Yaşar Güler hostedd a delegation from the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. “The meeting is deemed an opportunity to address our national security concerns at the highest level, particularly concentrating on issues such as counterterrorism, the support supplied by the U.S. to the PKK/YPG, the F-16 procurement and modernization process, as well as procurement schemes awaiting congressional approval, all of which are on the agenda of our bilateral military relations,” a security source expressed. Turkish Armed Forces persisted in successful missions in various geographies within the framework of bilateral connections and international missions. 

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