Turkey arrests 474 people for promoting PYD/PKK online

Interior Ministry: 192 suspects have also been arrested for involvement in protests against Afrin operation

By Sertac Bulur

A total of 474 suspects were arrested across Turkey last week for promotion of PYD/PKK terrorist organization on social media, according to the Interior Ministry on Monday.

In a written statement, the ministry said Turkish security forces arrested the suspects during nationwide operations for doing propaganda against ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northwestern Afrin.

Some 192 suspects were also arrested for being involved in protests against Turkey’s Afrin operation.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terror groups from northwestern Afrin region of Syria.

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 statement added security forces carried out 1,053 counter-terror operations between Feb. 5 and Feb. 12.

During the operations, 25 terrorists were “neutralized”, 353 were held on charges of aiding and abetting the PKK terror group while 66 others were taken into custody for alleged links to Daesh, it added.

Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or held.

- FETO suspects also held

Police also arrested 568 others for suspected ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey -- and 15 others for links to leftist terrorist groups.

Fifty-seven shelters and caves used by PKK terrorists and 10 improvised explosive devices and mines were destroyed in controlled detonations in the provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Hatay, Mardin, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli and Van.

During the operations, security forces also seized 790 kilograms (1,742 pounds) of explosives material, 15 hand grenades, 6,107 rounds of ammunition and 21 weapons, including 20 long-barreled guns and heavy weapons.

Additionally, 2,885 anti-narcotics and anti-contraband operations were carried out during which 4,972 suspects were captured in nationwide operations, according to the statement.

The raids led to the seizure of 4,833 tons of hashish, 312 kg (688 lb.) of heroin, 5.2 kg (11.5 Ib.) methamphetamine, 314,347 illegal drugs, 457,825 packages of smuggled cigarettes and over 46,266 liters of smuggled oil.

Security forces also arrested 243 suspects for crimes linked to terrorism and 31 others for organized trafficking of migrants; 4,627 undocumented migrants were also arrested for illegal border crossings.

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