In wake of terrorist PKK massacre in Gara region of Iraq, Turkish President Erdogan has said Turkey will stay long as necessary to secure regions it cleared of terrorists to avoid similar attacks again.
The Turkish president has vowed in the coming days to expand military operations which showed progress to other regions where threats are still significant.
“Whichever hole they enter, we will find them there and we will bump them off,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during the provincial congress of his governing Justice and Development (AK) Party in Trabzon on the Black Sea coast.
“We are fighting against a terrorist organisation with a past full of massacres of children, women, the elderly, civilians from all walks of life, and that finally descended to the point of ruthless execution of unarmed people,” Erdogan added.
His remarks came after the bodies of 13 Turkish nationals were found on Sunday during Turkey’s counterterrorism operation in Gara, northern Iraq.
Turkish forces carried out four-day Operation Claw-Eagle 2 in Gara last week to prevent the PKK and other terror groups from re-establishing positions used to carry out cross-border terrorist attacks on Turkey.
“Gara was an important, troubled area and it fell, God willing; the job was done,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president also blamed the western countries for being silent over the killing of 13 people by the terror group.
“We could not see anyone except a few faint voices," Erdogan said.
“We will stay as long as we need in the places we made secure to avoid similar attacks again,” the president said.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Tuesday that Turkey has carried out cross-border operations in northern Iraq because in 2019 most of the terrorist harassment came from those regions.
Citing regions in northern Iraq near the Turkish border, Soylu told parliament: “What was our problem in Gara? Why do we operate in Hakurk, Haftanin or Avasin? 70 percent of the terrorist harassment came from those regions in 2019.”
Soylu said the PKK works to abuse both young people and their families.
“After our children were martyred, they tried to abuse their families in their deaths, just as they abused their families for five years after they massacred them,” he said.
“The PKK will not gain a victory over our families; our families will beat them,” Soylu added.
Turkish ministers of defence and interior meet with members of the parliament in Ankara to brief them on the PKK massacre in northern Iraq. TRT World's Hasan Abdullah has more pic.twitter.com/qp7ku2bJeg— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) February 16, 2021
'Operations will continue with greater pace'
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar also said on Tuesday Turkey's anti-terror operations against the PKK terror group in northern Iraq are underway with greater force and pace.
Akar and Soylu briefed the lawmakers in parliament in the wake of the terrorist group PKK’s killings over the weekend.
"Our operations against PKK, which is struggling to survive, in northern Iraq continue uninterrupted with greater force and pace. The Turkish Armed Forces inflicted a heavy blow on the PKK in Gara [northern Iraq] in an area of 75 km [46.6 miles] by 25 km [15.5 miles] where terrorists used to feel safe," Akar said.
Akar noted that Turkey’s anti-terror offensive Operation Claw-Eagle 2 in Gara has been carried out in an area 35 km off Turkey's borders without any land support.
He said the operation was carried out under very difficult conditions through security measures "in a way that not every country can do."
During the operation, 51 terrorists were killed and two were captured, Akar stressed.
"From now on, the [PKK] terrorist organisation will no longer feel comfortable as it did yesterday. The blood of our martyrs has not been left on the ground, and it will not be," he said.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the EU, has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people.