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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Turkey arrests 42 over 'Syria offensive propaganda'

Iran Press TV

Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:07AM

Turkey has detained 42 people on accusations of "spreading terrorist propaganda" on social media about the country's offensive against a US-backed Kurdish militia group in northern Syria.

Turkish police made the arrests in several areas across Turkey, but the raids focused on the Aegean province of Izmir, where 23 suspects were detained, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported Tuesday.

The Izmir provincial chairman of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was among those arrested in the province.

Anadolu further said that six of the suspects had been planning to hold a protest in a park.

Turkish forces also detained 14 people in the eastern provinces of Van, Igdir, and Mus, while another five were arrested in the southern province of Mersin.

The arrests brought the number of those detained since the start of the offensive to 66, as 24 people were arrested on Monday over social media posts related to the operation.

After the Monday arrests, Human Rights Watch (HRW) blasted Ankara for its "intolerance of criticism," saying Turkish prosecutors were misusing articles of the law to "silence" journalists, government critics, and activists.

"Turkey's silencing of voices who speak out against war is in violation of its own laws and obligations under international human rights law," Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey researcher at the New York-based rights organization, said.

Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch on Saturday in a bid to eliminate the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The operation was launched days after Washington said it would work with the Kurdish militants to set up a 30,000-strong border force near Turkish soil, a move that infuriated Ankara.

The YPG is operating under the banner of the larger US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) without authorization from Damascus, which calls the force "traitors" to the Syrian nation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for national unity over the operation and warned of a "heavy price" for protests against the offensive.

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