Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday announced that 474 people have been detained on terror charges due to their posts on social media critical of a Turkish military incursion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, while 192 have been detained for taking part in street demonstrations protesting the operation.
The total number of people taken into custody thus far due to their critical stance on the Afrin operation, which was launched on Jan. 20, is 666.
The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.
President Erdoğan on Jan. 21 warned the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) not to take to the streets to protest the operation in Afrin: “You are being closely followed. If you try to take to the streets, know that our security forces will be at your neck.”
“If anyone is in the streets upon calls [from the HDP], they will pay dearly for it. This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed,” Erdoğan added.
Kral FM radio host Ali Şentürk, known as “Afrikalı Ali,” called on security forces to kill anybody who criticizes Turkey’s operation in Afrin.
Yusuf Ozan, a presenter for the pro-government Akit TV, on Sunday targeted the Cumhuriyet daily over a story it ran on the Afrin operation in Syria, saying Cumhuriyet journalists deserve to be executed.