June 21, 2018

Turkey detains 666 over social media criticism of Afrin operation

12 February 2018, 05:14 | Taylor George

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during in Capitol Hill Washington

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during in Capitol Hill Washington

Relations between Washington and Ankara have been highly strained, in part due to USA support for the the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

Declaring bilateral ties at a "critical point", Cavusoglu said: "We will either fix the ties or they will break down completely".

As for the reason for the armed group's mobilisation to Afrin, he said is because they believe "their fellow Kurds" in Afrin to be under attack, referring to Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in the northwestern Syrian province to clear PYD/PKK elements from there. The missing trust needs to be restored.

He was speaking, on Monday, a day after a visit to Turkey by U.S. National Security Advisor HR McMaster and ahead of a stop in Ankara this week by U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

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Airstrikes on PKK targets in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, where the terror group has its main base in the Qandil region near the Iranian border, have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when the PKK resumed its armed campaign.

"Since the start of Operation Olive Branch, 666 people have been detained over the terrorist propaganda in social media", the ministry said in a statement.

The White House said on Sunday that a senior advisor of US President Donald Trump visited Turkey on February 10 and 11 amid escalating tensions of the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over Turkey's attack in Afrin, Syria.

Ankara has also threatened to expand its offensive to the YPG-held town of Manbij, east of Afrin, where the US has a military presence, setting the scene for a potential showdown between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that back different sides in Syria's complex and multi-layered civil war.

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