Oct 15, 2019 15:05 UTC
  • Turkey arrests 4 Kurdish mayors amid Syria offensive

Turkey has arrested four mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), in an apparent crackdown on critics of Ankara’s latest offensive against Syria.

The HDP mayors of the Kurdish-majority Hakkari, Yuksekova, Ercis, and Nusaybin districts — which lie in southeastern Turkey near the country’s borders with Syria and Iraq — were detained during pre-dawn raids over “terrorism” links, the state-run Anadolu news agency and the party said on Tuesday, without giving further details.

The HDP has urged Ankara to halt the military operation in Syria, which is purportedly aimed at pushing Kurdish militants from the border region. The HDP has called the offensive an “invasion attempt.”

Ankara says the HDP is a political front for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been waging an insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s largely-Kurdish southeast since 1984 and is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey. Thousands of the members of the HDP have been prosecuted over the same accusation, including its leaders. The party denies any affiliation with the outlawed Kurdish militant group.

The Turkish government is also angered by descriptions of its offensive on Syria that label it as an invasion.

According to the HDP, 151 of the party’s members, including district officials, have been detained over the past week since that invasion began.

Last week, Turkish police also launched criminal investigations against HDP’s co-chairs over their criticism of the attack and began probes into over 500 social accounts over “terrorist propaganda” slamming the offensive.