President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reaffirmed the Turkish government’s determination to rebuild the damaged cities and districts of the country’s southeastern and eastern regions where anti-terror operations have continued to clear the areas from PKK terrorists.
“The government’s duty is not only to reconstruct buildings but also to win [people’s] hearts,” he told an urban transformation conference in Istanbul on Monday.
“We need to strengthen our citizens’ trust, loyalty, and faith into their state,” he said.
Erdogan indicated that PKK terrorist organization has caused great suffering and destruction for country's citizens in the cities of southeastern and eastern Turkey since last July by digging ditches in neighbourhoods, exploding bombs, and clashing with security forces.
“Our purpose is not to destroy homes but to provide our citizens safe ones,” he emphasised.
Large urban areas such as Diyarbakir’s Sur district and Sirnak’s Cizre district have been severely damaged during clashes between security forces and the PKK, which has widely used explosives to ambush security forces.
Sur, parts of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been particularly hit badly.
“We will rebuild Sur in line with its own historical identity and appearance and help our citizens own houses where they could live in peace and trust,” Turkish president promised, echoing comments made last week by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about plans to renovate the historic district.
Since December, a series of counter-terrorism operations have been launched across southeastern and eastern Turkey in order to clean a number of urban areas from terrorism according to Turkish government, following the PKK’s resumption of attacks as of July.
More than 350 members of the Turkish security forces have died since last summer during fierce clashes with the PKK which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, the EU and NATO.
The PKK was established by Abdullah Ocalan and his supporters in 1974 in Ankara and the group began launching terror attacks in early 1984. Armed clashes and acts of violence have continued on and off for more than 30 years, claiming more than 40,000 lives.