Over 35 held in Turkey 'for promoting terrorism' online

Over 35 held in Turkey 'for promoting terrorism' online

Suspects have been charged with taking part in online smear campaign of terrorist PYD/PKK against Turkey's Afrin operation

By Emrah Yasar, Sinan Ozmus and Cemil Karip

ESKISEHIR/AGRI, Turkey (AA) - A total of 37 suspects were detained across Turkey on Wednesday for allegedly taking part in an online smear campaign of terrorist PYD/PKK group against Turkey's ongoing operation in northwestern Syria's Afrin, according to provincial governors' office and security sources.

In eastern Agri province, 27 suspects were arrested during simultaneous raids Tuesday in Agri city and its districts of Dogubeyazit, Diyadin, Patnos and Taslicay, the regional governor's office said in a statement.

The suspects were accused of participating in a smear campaign against the Afrin operation, promoting terrorism and issuing news releases in favor of the terror group, it added.

In northwestern province of Eskisehir, five suspects were held for posting provocative messages on social media, a security source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said.

The five were accused of inciting enmity and hatred among people, the source added.

In Bursa province, a suspect was arrested on the same charges, the source said.

Separately, Antalya Governor's Office announced four arrests for promoting the PYD/PKK terror group.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.

As the operation entered its 12th day, the Turkish General Staff announced that at least 712 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in 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 to protect Syrians from oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

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.

The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and that "utmost importance and sensitivity" was being given to not harm any civilian.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

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