Erdogan: 35 key PKK members ‘finished off’ in Qandil

Turkish military finished off 35 key members of PKK terror group in an air operation in Mt. Qandil area of northern Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

"In the second operation [in Qandil], we caught these leaders meeting and we finished off 35 important names there," Erdogan said during his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's election rally in southeastern Kahramanmaras province.

Turkey has said the presence of terrorist groups near its border constitute a threat, and has launched military operations and other efforts to rid the region of terrorists.

Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in August 2016 and ended in March 2017, was aimed at eliminating the terrorist threat along the Turkish border with the use of the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish artillery and air cover.

Later speaking at another rally in southeastern Gaziantep province, Erdogan said: Syria's stability depends on Turkey's strength. Otherwise, they [terrorists] will break Syria into pieces.

He added they would also keep disturbing Turkey with their possible terror state on the country's borders.

Stating that the number of Syrians who have returned to their country has reached 200,000, Erdogan said: After the elections, we are aiming to ensure security in whole Syrian territories and send all of our guests back to their country.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from northwestern Syria's Afrin region. On March 18, Day 58 of the operation, Turkish troops, and Free Syrian Army members liberated the town of Afrin.

On Monday, the Turkish and U.S. forces began patrols in Syria's Manbij in line with a deal which was first announced after a meeting in Washington last week between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Manbij deal focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated YPG terror group from the northern Syrian city in order to stabilize the region.

Should the model prove to be a success, Turkey will push for a similar arrangement in eastern Syria.

In its over-30-year terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including those of women and children. The YPG/PKK is its Syrian branch.

Source: Anadolu Agency