By Necat Hazar
VAN, Turkey (AA) - At least 18 people were arrested as part of PKK/KCK counter-terrorist raids in eastern Turkey, the police said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Van Provincial Security Directorate said police carried out simultaneous operations in the province to apprehend 20 PKK/KCK suspects.
According to the statement, the suspects were planning to hold street demonstrations to protest both the anniversary of the 1999 arrest of Abdullah Ocalan, the convicted leader of the terrorist organization PKK, and the ongoing Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria.
The PKK -- recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., the EU, and Turkey -- is responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including women and children, since July 2015 alone.
Police also rounded up two suspects in the northwestern Balikesir province for allegedly spreading propaganda against Operation Olive Branch on social media, the governorship said on Tuesday.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.