Syrian Kurds boycott Russian-sponsored Sochi talks following Turkey assault on Afrin

Cheryl Sanders
January 30, 2018

The Turkish operation aims to oust from Afrin a militia made up of an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 fighters affiliated with the People's Protection Units or YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group that has controlled territory in northern Syria and proven effective in fighting the Islamic State group. Ozcelik said it was the first time in the association's history that all its executive members had been ordered detained.

Şeker and another CHP lawmaker, Niyazi Nefi Kara, issued a statement of support for the doctors' group after the detentions, saying that NGOs and intellectuals who opposed the war were not alone. "They are the servants of imperialism", he told AK Party members in the northern province of Amasya.

Despite calls for restraint in Syria from the U.S. and concern from the European Union, Turkey has stepped up its offensive in recent days, while threatening to further expand it and also cracking down on critics at home.

The Erdogan government calls the militia a "terrorist" offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a group characterized by the United States, Europe and Turkey as a bona fide terrorist organization.

The interior ministry on Monday said 311 people including journalists and activists had been detained over accusations they were spreading "terror propaganda". The operation, supporting Syrian rebels with Turkish ground troops and air strikes, seeks to eliminate the YPG from its western enclave of Afrin in Syria close to the Turkish border.

The Turkish Medical Association denounced the cross-border operation into Syria's Afrin last week, saying "No to war, peace immediately".

"As the authorities go after those accused of deliberate disinformation", Mr Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin warned the public and media to be wary of "lying, fake, distortive and provocative news, images and gossip".

Erdogan, however, called the signatories "traitors".

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