The Turkish Interior Ministry on 26 February announced that a total of 845 individuals have so far been detained by police for expressing online criticism for Turkey’s military operation in the north of Syria.
This marks a further increase from the figure of 786, which the ministry announced the previous week.The ministry didn’t specify how many of those detentions had turned into formal arrests and imprisonment.
The statement said: “Since 20 January 1918 when Operation Olive Branch started to date, there have been 85 actions/protests against the operation; 648 instances of social media propaganda have been made and 120 provocateurs have been detected during demonstrations, and a total of 845 suspects have been taken into custody for events/demonstrations or propaganda efforts.”
The statement also said that it was taking action regarding 423 social media accounts that were either praising terror organizations, spreading propaganda on behalf of the terrorist organization, inciting the public to hatred and hostility, threatening the integrity of the state and public safety or insulting state officials. It also said legal action had been taken against 251 people in charge of such accounts. It wasn’t clear whether these 251 were among the 845 taken into custody as part of the general crackdown on criticism of Turkey’s military campaign in Syria.
On 20 January, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) launched an incursion into Afrin, a Kurdish enclave of Syria in an operation Turkey named ‘the Olive Branch’.The Turkish government says the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controls much of northeastern Syria, is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considered a terrorist organization.