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Turkey: Nearly 600 Detained For Opposing Syrian Offensive
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Turkey has so far detained 573 people for social media posts and protests criticizing its military offensive in Syria, the government said Monday.
The crackdown, which has extended to the national medical association, deepened concerns about free speech under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has referred to opponents of the military intervention as "traitors".
Turkey last month launched an air and ground attack, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, against the Kurdish YPG militants in Syria's northwestern Afrin region. Authorities have repeatedly warned they would prosecute those opposing, criticizing or misrepresenting the incursion.
"Since the start of Operation Olive Branch, 449 people have been detained for spreading terrorist propaganda on social media and 124 people detained for taking part in protest action," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The operation has been widely supported by Turkey's mainly pro-government media and by most political parties, with the exception of the pro-Kurdish opposition.
Last week, a prosecutor ordered the detention of 11 senior members of the Turkish Medical Association, including its chairman, after the organization criticized the incursion, saying: "No to war, peace immediately".
Erdogan criticized the body as traitors. Detention orders were issued for another 13 people for supporting the medics.
Three of the doctors were later released on probation, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.
Turkey says its measures are necessary due to the gravity of the security threats it faces.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
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