By Nilay Kar Onum
Turkey has brought back 80 Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members from abroad so far, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
Speaking at the sixth ordinary congress of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in Istanbul, Erdogan said: “We’ve brought 80 FETO [terrorists] back from abroad so far.
“We will chase them [the remaining ones] as well.”
Referring to U.S.-based FETO leader Fetullah Gulen, he said: “You, who are in Pennsylvania, will also come.”
Last week, Turkish intelligence officers brought three senior Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members to Turkey following an anti-terror operation against the group in Gabon, a Central African country, security sources said.
In March, Turkish intelligence officers also brought six senior FETO members back to Turkey following operations against the terror group’s branch in the Balkans, according to security sources.
In cooperation with Kosovo’s intelligence agency, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) arrested the six men, who were said to be in charge of getting FETO members out of Turkey and into Europe and the U.S. alongside their activities in the Balkans
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated July 2016 defeated coup in Turkey which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Erdogan also said 4,163 terrorists have been neutralized so far as part of the Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin region.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated Afrin town center, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since 2012.
Also, 337 PKK terrorists were neutralized in northern Iraq and 190 others inside Turkey have also been neutralized, the president added.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
In its more than 30-year terror 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 some 40,000 people.
The PYD/YPG are Syrian branches of the terrorist PKK and the focus of Turkey’s successful counter-terrorist Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria, near the border with Turkey.