By Ilkay Guder
Turkey remains determined to eradicate terrorism “completely”, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a campaign rally for ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in northwestern Zonguldak province, Erdogan said: “We are determined to erase terror completely from the agenda of this country.
“We do not expect terrorism to turn up on our doors; we are going to the source of terrorism before it comes to us.”
The president said Turkey’s anti-terror operations over the past two years had weakened terror groups.
Hundreds of terrorists inside and outside of Turkey’s borders had “ceased to be a threat,” he added.
The Turkish president also said that after the Afrin operation, Turkey continued to take “necessary steps to defeat other terrorist swamps”.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town center of Afrin in northern Syria, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK terror group since 2012.
The operation was part of Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch which was launched in January to clear terrorist groups from the area. After liberating the city of Afrin, Ankara said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij, unless the YPG/PKK terrorist group leaves the strategically located city.
Terrorists to ‘pay price’
Erdogan added the successful anti-terror operations were all conducted despite opposition from Republican People’s Party and its leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and its presidential candidate Muharrem Ince.
“We will let all terrorists who are responsible — especially their ringleaders — pay the price for murdering the children of this nation over the past 34 years,” he said.
“If needed we will go to Sinjar and do what is necessary,” he added.
In late 2015, Peshmerga forces captured Iraq’s Sinjar from the Daesh terrorist group, which had overrun the district a year earlier.
However, PKK elements have also remained in Sinjar since 2014 on the pretext of fighting Daesh.
Erdogan, for his part, has repeatedly said Turkey would not allow Sinjar to become a PKK stronghold.
In its more than 30-year terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the death of nearly 40,000 people.
More than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including women and children, have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the terror group resumed its armed campaign against Turkey.