Turkish authorities have captured 2,554 fugitives as part of a nationwide counter-terrorism operation launched after Kurdish militants detonated a bomb near government buildings in Ankara a week ago, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on Sunday.

Turkiye said this week all targets belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militia and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were “legitimate targets” for its forces, after the PKK claimed responsibility for last Sunday’s bombing, which wounded two police officers and killed the two attackers.

Ankara said the attackers came from Syria. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the YPG militia which Turkiye regards as a terrorist organisation affiliated with the PKK, denied this.

The United States and European Union deem the PKK a terrorist organisation, but not the YPG.

Since the attack, Ankara has launched a barrage of air strikes and ground-based attacks against militant targets in the north of Syria and Iraq, while ramping up security operations at home.

“We will not allow fugitive criminals to roam our streets. We are determined to catch and hand them over to justice,” he said, without saying which groups those captured belonged to.

Authorities had been searching for 12 of the fugitives for over 10 years, Yerlikaya said, while 91 have been sought for 5-10 years, and 2,451 for fewer than five years. The YPG is also at the heart of the SDF forces in the US-led coalition against Islamic State militants. US support for them has long caused tension with Ankara.Turkiye, which has mounted several incursions into northern Syria against the YPG, has said a ground operation into Syria is an option it could consider.


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2023-10-09

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