Turkish security forces have killed 3,100 PKK terrorists in operations over the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.
“Turkish security forces annihilated terrorists in mountains and cities inch by inch,” he said in his New Year message. “They will continue to do that.”
In July, a fragile peace between PKK and the Turkish state broke down in the wake of the Suruc bombing. Turkey then began conducting land and air operations against the PKK in Turkey and northern Iraq.
Erdogan said his biggest source of sorrow was the 200 members of the police and military martyred in anti-PKK operations, as well as the loss of civilian lives.
PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU. On July 22 it launched attacks on security forces, setting up roadside bombs on highways and roadblocks and trenches in cities and towns.
In response, the security forces imposed curfews on some urban centers in Turkey’s southeast.
Erdogan said Turkey would strive for peace in Syria without aiming to further its national interest. “We have no aim other than our brothers’ security and their peace,” he said, adding that Turkey had no “eye on” other countries’ land or sovereignty.
The Syrian civil war, now in its fifth year, has left more than 250,000 dead and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people, according to UN figures. Turkey currently hosts 2.4 million Syrians.
Turning to the fall-out with Russia following the downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on Nov. 24, Erdogan said: “Turkey has never been in favor of tension. But we could not turn a blind eye to the violation of our sovereignty in an area where the tension is high.”