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Iran Press TV

13 people detained in Turkey for opposing Afrin operation

Iran Press TV

Sat Mar 3, 2018 05:30PM

Turkish forces have arrested more than a dozen people over their vehement opposition to the Ankara government's military operation in Syria's northwestern region of Afrin against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militant group.

Judicial sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that 13 people were detained in the country' northeastern province of Kars on Saturday for taking part in an online campaign against the offensive.

The sources added that the suspects had also insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The development came on the same day that Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkish military forces and allied militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army had cleared Turkey's southeastern border areas of YPG militants.

"Afrin is surrounded. We have cleared all nearby border areas of terror nests," Yildirim said in the central Turkish city of Konya.

He said that Turkish soldiers had been conducting "successful" ground and air operations in Afrin.

Meanwhile, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Saturday that a total of 2,434 YPG militants had been "neutralized" since the launch of "Operation Olive Branch" in Syria's Afrin on January 20.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of "terrorists," and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.

The controversy over a possible Syria border force first started on January 14 when a report emerged on Reuters saying that the military coalition led by the United States in Syria was planning to set up a large border force of up to 30,000 personnel with the aid of its militia allies.

The Syrian government has already condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin, rejecting Ankara's claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.

Damascus "strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syrian territory," Syria's official news agency SANA cited a Syrian Foreign Ministry source as saying on January 20.

"Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish regime that it was informed of this military operation," the source added.

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