Turkish government has detained at least 474 people across Turkey for alleged promotion of the outlawed PYD/PKK on social media since beginning of the military operation in northern Syria on Jan. 210, according to a written statement made by Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday. Some 192 suspects were also detained for being involved in protests against Turkey’s Afrin operation.
In a written statement, the ministry said Turkish security forces detained the suspects during nationwide operations for doing propaganda against ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwestern Afrin.
Turkish government had detained a total of 449 people so far for allegedly “spreading terror propaganda” on social media about Turkish operation in Syria’s Afrin region previous week. The ministry had reported that after examining 934 social media accounts, the Turkish police’s cybercrime division launched legal proceedings against 260 suspects across Turkey between Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2018.
Turkish government had detained 573 people for social media posts and protests criticising its military offensive in Syria in the same period. “Since the start of Operation Olive Branch, 449 people have been detained for spreading terrorist propaganda on social media and 124 people detained for taking part in protest action,” had said the Interior Ministry in a statement.
Also on Monday, 11 people have been detained in home raids in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa over their alleged “terrorism propaganda” on social media. The operation was carried out by teams from the Provincial Security Directorate Anti-Terror Branch and Intelligence Bureau Directorates, supported by the special operation forces.
Turkey launched an air and ground offensive, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, on January 20 against the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region. Authorities have repeatedly warned they would prosecute those opposing, criticizing or misrepresenting the incursion.
The detentions came after Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lambasted those who have criticised the Afrin operation. Following Erdoğan’s speech Turkish police have detained hundreds of people.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and allegedly ISIL militants from northwestern Afrin region of Syria. According to the Turkish General Staff, the Afrin operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as “to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.”