Two Turkish soldiers were killed and one was wounded on Saturday during operations in Turkey and northwestern Syria, according to the Turkish military.
In a statement, the General Staff said that one soldier was killed during Operation Olive Branch, a Turkish-led military operation in northwestern Syria. Additionally, one soldier was killed and another was injured in Şemdinli in the southeastern Hakkarı province in an attack by terror groups.
Separately, an airstrike in northern Iraq’s Hakurk region took place as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants were preparing for attacks on Turkish patrols and bases in the region, said the military. The airstrikes destroyed a shelter, a hideout, and weapons pits used by the terror group, it added.
Also on Saturday, a total of 1,595 PYD/PKK and allegedly ISIL militants have been “neutralized” since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement. Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured. Also, 674 PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and alleged ISIL targets have been destroyed in air strikes since the start of the operation, the military said.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has claimed on Saturday that Turkey is ensuring Europe’s security by stopping the flow of foreign fighters, countering illegal migration, and fighting terrorist groups in Syria. “So far 5,800 foreign fighters have been sent back from our borders, we did not let them in,” Yıldırım told the Munich Security Conference, adding that most of these fighters were residents of European countries.
“And we also banned 56,300 potential foreign fighters affiliated with ISIL from travelling to Turkey,” he said, stressing that these measures significantly cut security risks for Europe. Yıldırım has also claimed that Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria ending last March and its strict anti-terrorism measures contributed significantly to eliminating the threat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. “Around 10,000 ISIL members are currently under arrest in Turkey,” Yıldırım said, giving the most recent figures.
He repeated Turkey’s call for Washington to end its support for the PYD/PKK, citing its threat to Turkey’s security along the border with Syria, which Turkey is fighting in its current Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria. “NATO’s southern borders are Turkey’s borders. While we are protecting NATO’s borders here, we cannot find any explanation for the acts of another NATO ally, which is cooperating with a terror organization which attacked our people, threatened our borders,” he stressed.