Over 17,000 FETO suspects purged from Turkish military
676 terrorists neutralized in Northern Iraq in 2019, 64 in Operation Claw-1,16 in Claw-2, 22 in Claw-3, says defense chief
More than 17,000 FETO suspects have been purged from Turkey's military since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, the country's national defense minister announced.
Underlining that the Turkish Armed Forces continued to strengthen as "traitors" among its ranks were removed, Hulusi Akar said that the expulsions -- 17,498 so far -- would continue until "not a single traitor" wore a Turkish military uniform.
"Since the beginning of the year, 676 terrorists have been neutralized, 64 in [Operation] Claw-1,16 in Claw-2 and 22 in Claw-3," Akar said, referring to ongoing Turkish anti-terror operations in Northern Iraq.
"Hopefully our 82 million citizens will be rid of this scourge of terrorism. Terrorists have no choice but to surrender and give up," he said.
Syria, Eastern Mediterranean
Akar underlined that the Turkish military would put in all its efforts to prevent Syrian regime forces from carrying out attacks on children, women, old people and the youth in Idlib.
He noted that more than 700 innocent people have been killed and more than 500,000 people forced from their homes after attacks by the regime in violation of deescalation agreements.
"If any damage comes to our staff or observation points we will exercise our right to self-defense to the fullest," Akar said, referring to what he said were false reports of attacks on Turkish observation points around Idlib in northwestern Syria.
In addition to counter-terrorism efforts, Akar emphasized that Turkey would not compromise its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and Cyprus.
"We have declared to the World that we will not back down, do not miscalculate and test our strength, power and force on this issue," Akar said.
He stressed that it was not a "concession or weakness" when Turkey says it is in favor of "good neighborly relations and will abide by international law
"On the other hand, it is not a threat to say that we will not allow anyone to violate our rights and laws," Akar added.