World Bulletin / News Desk
Addressing students and staff during an award ceremony at Istanbul Technical University, Yildirim said that Turkey’s fight against the PKK as well as Fetullah extremist Organization (FETO) and ISIL was still ongoing.
“In a sense, Turkey has been paying the price of its geographical location,” he said.
Yildirim said that the Anatolian lands were a zone where civilizations had met and clashed intermittently throughout history.
“Especially, in the recent years, the instability that occurred near our southern [border] in Iraq and Syria has affected Turkey,” he said.
Turkey’s border with Syria and Iraq has been a source of worry and agitation since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011 and later ISIL took control of large swathes of territory of both countries.
Last December, Turkey sent some 150 troops and about two dozens combat tanks to Camp Bashiqa, located some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) northeast of the ISIL-held city of Mosul.
The deployment – which was criticized at the time by Baghdad – was aimed at protecting Turkish military personnel tasked with training Iraqi volunteers to fight ISIL.
Last week, the Iraqi parliament described Turkish troops training Iraqi forces against ISIL as “hostile occupying forces”. Both Ankara and Baghdad summoned the other's ambassadors.
Yildirim added that while “some countries which have no physical bonds or ties of affection with the region can operate there,” the involvement of Turkey, a country that pays the biggest price, has created a dispute".
Yildirim appeared to be referring to the U.S.-led coalition forces fighting against ISIL.
Turkey has every right to take measures to ensure its border security and protect its citizens, Yildirim said.
The PKK – listed as a extremist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU – has also created havoc in the southeast since it resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July last year.
Since then, PKK extremist attacks have martyred more than 700 security personnel and also claimed the lives of many civilians, including women and children, while around 8,000 PKK extremists were killed or apprehended in army operations.
Turkey also launched Operation Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24, which is aimed at bolstering border security, supporting coalition forces, and eliminating the threat posed by extremist organizations, especially ISIL.
FETO -- mentioned by Yildirim above -- is believed to be behind the July 15 coup attempt, which martyred 241 people.