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Turkey Faces Local Opposition over Afrin Operation

Turkey Faces Local Opposition over Afrin Operation

Monday, 22 January, 2018 - 18:45
Turkish army tanks gather close to the Syrian border on Sunday. (AFP)

Turkish authorities issued on Monday arrest warrants against 35 people for opposing the offensive Ankara is waging against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin in neighboring Syria.

Turkish police also detained 24 people for “spreading terrorist propaganda” on social media related to the operation and the capital city’s governor has banned all protests.

Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” over the weekend, pushing into the Afrin region to dislodge the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG and opening a new front in the seven-year-old Syrian civil war.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decades-old insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.

Authorities were also investigating social media posts about the military operation allegedly made by two HDP lawmakers, including a post from the party’s spokesman, Ayhan Bilgen, Anadolu said.

It said Bilgen was being investigated for allegedly stirring enmity and hatred for tweeting against Ankara’s Afrin attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday warned supporters of the HDP, parliament’s third-largest party, not to demonstrate against the military operation, saying security forces would be “on their necks” if they did.

On Monday, Ankara governor’s office said it banned all rallies, protests, meetings, concerts and similar organizations across the capital, for as long as the “Operation Olive Branch” is underway.

“Intelligence reports are being received that such activities could lead to unwanted incidents (...) and that bombings could be carried out by terrorist organizations against participants and our citizens during these activities,” it said in a statement.

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