Number of PKK members in Turkey dropped to 486 - interior minister

Turkey’s fight against terrorism was continuing successfully, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Sunday, adding that the number of members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had dropped to 486.

Soylu’s speech at a military base in eastern Bitlis province’s Tatvan district came a week after the Interior Ministry reported two Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with the PKK in the province’s Sehi Forest.

Turkey and the PKK have been engaged in a decades-long guerrilla war in the country’s southeast, which has seen more than 40,000 killed. The PKK, which maintains its headquarters in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq, has been labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

"This week, our friends sent nine terrorists to the bottom of hell in Tunceli, Ağrı and Adıyaman on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the minister as saying. "Most of them (PKK members) are gone, few are left. The number of terrorists at home has dropped to 486.”

Soylu has routinely counted down a tally of PKK militants operating within Turkey.

In March 2019, he said only 700 militants “remained in the mountains” out of 50,000 after Turkish military operations. At the end of the year, the minister updated the figure to between 500 and 550 present in the country.

“If Allah permits it, we will show the terrorist organisation what 2020 is like with our chain of operations, which we have re-planned this year and followed step by step,” Soylu said on Sunday.


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