Turkey "neutralized" 1,458 PKK-YPG members in cross border operations this year: defense minister

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ANKARA, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Turkish security forces have killed 1,458 members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in cross border operation, defense minister of the country said on Monday.

"A total of 1,458 terrorists were neutralized as a result of the operations carried out in the framework of the fight against terrorism in the north of Iraq and Syria since Jan. 1," Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said while visiting a military post in Central Anatolian Kayseri province.

"The Turkish Armed Forces will continue this struggle with determination until the last terrorist is neutralized," he said.

Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in statements to imply the "terrorists" who surrendered or were killed or captured.

"Everyone should know that we are performing our duties in five operating regions with great determination, and that we are performing these activities completely under the law and that all these activities are transparent and open to all kinds of audits," he stated.

Turkey continues efforts to maintain the ceasefire and stability in Idlib after an agreement with Russia sealed on March 5, he said.

"Although there are some minor violations there, the ceasefire is generally observed. As a result of the ceasefire provided, approximately 300,000 Syrian brothers and sisters returned to their homes safely and voluntarily," the minister stated.

Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The Turkish army launched Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016, Operation Olive Branch in 2018, Operation Peace Spring in 2019 and Operation Spring Shield in 2020 in order to create a YPG-free zone along its border within Syria.

Turkish security forces have long been conducting operations against the PKK targets in northern Iraq where the group has hideouts.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU, has fought a 30-year war against the Turkish government, claiming the lives of more than 40,000. Enditem

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