By Cemil Karip, Idris Emre Savman and Seyhan Kirici
AGRI/BALIKESIR, Turkey (AA) - Twenty-six suspects were arrested in Turkey on Tuesday for allegedly taking part in an online terrorist PYD/PKK smear campaign against Turkey's military operation in northwestern Syria, according to security sources.
In the eastern Agri province, nine suspects -- including the provincial head of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Masuk Arpac -- were arrested, according to a security source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media.
During another operation in Agri’s Patros district, eight others were detained, the source added.
Nine suspects were also arrested in the western Balikesir province, following warrants issued by prosecutors, the governor's office announced.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, 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 oppression and cruelty.
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.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.