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Turkey replaces Kurdish mayors amid crackdown on criticism of Syria offensive

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Turkey replaced the mayors of a Kurdish-majority town in its Southeast with a state official, the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said, amid a crackdown at home on criticism of Ankara’s offensive in Syria, Reuters reported.

The HDP said five of its co-mayors in the southeastern Kurdish-majority towns of Hakkari, Yüksekova and Nusaybin had been jailed pending trial on Thursday. Two other co-mayors in the district of Erciş were detained earlier this week and remain in custody, it said.

Turkey has launched a crackdown against dissent in its Kurdish-majority areas following its assault against Kurdish-controlled parts of neighboring Syria. Protests have been broken up with tear gas, and scores of people have been arrested for criticizing the military campaign online.

The HDP governs many cities in the mainly Kurdish Southeast of Turkey. It typically appoints one male and one female co-mayor to promote gender equality.

Semire Nergiz and Ferhat Kut, co-mayors of Nusaybin, were accused of membership in a terrorist organization and replaced by a state-appointed trustee on Friday, the HDP said.

Yüksekova Co-mayors Remziye Yaşar and İrfan Sarı were jailed for their interviews, occasional opinion pieces and social media posts. It was not immediately clear what Hakkari Mayor Cihan Kahraman was accused of.

The state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday local administrators had been appointed to replace mayors in Yüksekova and Hakkari.

Meanwhile a political rally planned for Friday by the HDP in Adana was prevented by police, and 20 HDP members, including Adana branch officials, were taken into police custody, according to the Turkish media.

Friday’s moves came just hours after Turkey agreed with the United States to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from a planned “safe zone” in Syria’s northeast.

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