By Lale Koklu
HATAY, Turkey (AA) - Police arrested 17 suspects during a counter-terrorism operation in southern Hatay province for allegedly spreading and making propaganda for PKK/KCK/PYD/-YPG terror groups Tuesday, according to a police official.
Provincial heads and members of opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were among those held, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, added.
The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015. Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including women and children.
On Jan.20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK -- a Syrian affiliated group of PKK -- and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the Afrin operation was aimed at establishing security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protecting the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
It said the operation was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law.
The military also said "utmost care" was being taken to avoid harm to civilians.