6 ships left Ukrainian ports after resumption of grain deal: Turkish defense chief

Türkiye to intensify efforts for extension of Black Sea grain export deal set to expire on Nov. 19, says National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

6 ships left Ukrainian ports after resumption of grain deal: Turkish defense chief

Six ships have so far left Ukrainian ports since the grain deal corridor resumed on Wednesday, and since early August the number of ships under the deal totals over 425, carrying close to 10 million tons of grain, the Turkish national defense minister said on Thursday.

"After the resumption of the grain initiative, six ships left Ukrainian ports. Thus, the number of ships leaving the ports topped 426 and the amount of grain transported surpassed 9.7 million tons," Hulusi Akar said in the southeastern Hakkari province.

Akar's remarks came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement of Russia's return to the Black Sea grain export deal, which was signed on July 22 between Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine.

Last Saturday Russia had suspended its participation in the deal due to Ukrainian attacks before returning to the deal on Wednesday after Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Now, we will intensify our efforts within the framework determined by our president regarding the extension of the grain initiative, which will expire on Nov. 19," Akar added.

He said it is Ankara's "most sincere wish" that the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv ends through peaceful means.

The parties are currently negotiating a possible extension and expansion beyond its Nov. 19 deadline, with Erdogan saying Ankara is determined to transfer Russian grain and fertilizers to less-developed countries.

429 terrorists neutralized in northern Iraq since April

Turning to Türkiye's ongoing counterterrorism operation in northern Iraq, Akar said a total of 429 terrorists were neutralized since the start of Operation Claw-Lock in April.

"We are approaching the end. The entire Claw Lock Operation area is almost under control. We will clear Zap (in northern Iraq) of terrorists," Akar said.

He added that in the operation, more than 540 shelters and caves were cleared and over 1,800 mines and improvised explosives destroyed.

Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Lock in April to target the PKK terror organization's hideouts in northern Iraq's Metina, Zap, and Avasin-Basyan regions near the Turkish border.

It was preceded by Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle launched in 2020 to root out terrorists hiding out in northern Iraq and plotting cross-border attacks in Türkiye.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.