UPDATES WITH MORE ARRESTS; REVISED HEADLINE, SPOT AND LEDE
By Hasan Namli
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AA) – A total of 51 suspects were arrested across Turkey on Monday for promoting the PYD/PKK terrorist group on their social media accounts, according to a security official.
On Sunday, investigations were launched by chief public prosecutor's offices in Ankara, Van, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Mus and Istanbul against some social media users who allegedly voiced support for the PYD/PKK terror group.
As part of the investigation by the Diyarbakir’s Chief Public Prosecutors Office, eight people were arrested in the southeastern province when anti-terrorism units carried out simultaneous operations across the province, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said.
The arrests came after the provincial chief public prosecutor’s office issued arrest warrants for 17 people who were suspected of spreading the terrorist organization's propaganda via social media, as well as of inciting people of Kurdish origin to take to the streets by sharing provocative and delusive photographs about the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin.
On Saturday, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terror groups from northwestern Afrin region of Syria.
Another 36 people were arrested in the Ankara, Kutahya, Mardin, Van, Mus, Mugla and Kars provinces on Monday.
Six people were also arrested in Bursa for allegedly promoting propaganda for the KCK/PKK terrorist group.
- Propaganda activities on social media
Meanwhile, the public prosecutors' offices in Ankara and Istanbul have issued arrest warrants for 12 and 18 people, respectively, over similar alleged propaganda activities on social media.
Another suspect was arrested in the southeastern Mardin province for allegedly promoting the PKK terrorist organization and sharing erroneous information about the Afrin operation.
The arrest came as part of the investigation launched by the Mardin’s Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.
Separately, Istanbul’s Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office officially launched an investigation into 57 people suspected of spreading terrorist propaganda against the operation via social media.
The suspects were accused of “insulting a public official”, “inciting hatred and enmity among people”, “insulting the president”, “humiliating the Turkish people, government and military organization overtly”, and “propagating terrorist organization ideas” with regards to Twitter activity.
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.
The operation was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said "utmost importance" was being given to not harm civilians.
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 putting up a fight.
*Halil Ibrahim Sancar from Mardin, Kemal Karadag from Ankara, Cuneyt Celik from Van, Durmus Genc from Mugla, Ibrahim Yaldiz from Mus and Ugur Ulu from Bursa contributed the story.