Turkey says PKK membership dropped significantly in 2020

The number of fresh recruits for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has dropped significantly in 2020, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Saturday.

Last year, 52 new members joined the terror group last year, Soylu said on Twitter, sharing a graphic of the PKK’s new members between 1984-2020.

“New membership into the terrorist organisation in 2020 fell short of 1984, the first year the organisation launched its activities,” he said.

The PKK, designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has been fighting an armed insurgency against the Turkish state for four decades. Tens of thousands of people, mostly ethnic Kurds based in Turkey, have died in the conflict.

At least 164 PKK militants were neutralised in operations across Turkey in December, according to data compiled by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkish authorities use the term "neutralised" to imply the people in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

The operations targeting members and supporters of the PKK and the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) were carried out by the Turkish military, intelligence agency, police, gendarmerie and other security forces, Anadolu said.

The Kurdish-majority YPG militia has played a vital role in the U.S.-led coalition’s ground operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group. Turkey views the YPG as a PKK offshoot– thus a threat to national security – and has conducted three campaigns into Syria to push the group south from the Turkish-Syrian border region.