By Burak Bir and Dilara Hamit
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Sunday said members of the PKK/YPG terror group collaborating with Armenian terrorists in Upper Karabakh should leave the region immediately.
"PKK/YPG terrorists collaborating with Armenian terrorists who target innocent civilians must leave the region immediately, otherwise, as always, they will be once again disappointed,'' ministry spokeswoman Nadide Sebnem Aktop told reporters in the capital Ankara.
Dismissing Armenian claims that Turkish aircraft and drones had been deployed in the region, Aktop said nobody except Yerevan's supporters took those assertions seriously.
She stressed that Turkey would continue to always stand with brotherly country Azerbaijan.
Fighting began on Sept. 27 when Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to casualties.
– Upper Karabakh conflict
Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
Multiple UN resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the invading forces.
The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.
Many world powers including Russia, France, and the US have urged an immediate cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense.
– Anti-terror operations and FETO
During the press conference, Aktop underlined that Turkish forces had neutralized 953 terrorists in 2020 so far, including 128 since September.
Turkish authorities often use "neutralized" to imply the terrorists in question 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 US and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
The YPG is the PKK's branch in Syria, just across Turkey's southern border.
Aktop also added that a total of 20,312 staff had been dismissed since the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, adding that judicial process was ongoing for 3,798.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated a defeated coup on July 15, 2016 which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey 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.