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Jailed Kurdish leader accuses Turkish gov’t of seeking to attract votes with offensive

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Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş has accused the Turkish government of seeking to increase its votes through a military offensive launched in northern Syria and Iraq over the weekend against Kurdish militants.

Turkey on Sunday carried out air strikes on the bases of outlawed Kurdish militants across northern Syria and Iraq, which it said were being used to launch “terrorist” attacks on Turkish soil. The offensive, codenamed Operation Claw-Sword, came a week after a blast in central İstanbul killed six people and wounded 81, an attack Turkey has blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Demirtaş commented on the Turkish operation on Twitter through his lawyers, calling on everyone to say “No to war.”

He said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is seeking to increase its votes by presenting the operation, which he said came as a result of a “dirty scenario,” as the “defense of the homeland.” He said the opposition will also approve of the government’s narrative, but that nobody should be afraid and everyone should raise their voices against the “war.”

Demirtaş believes the government was involved in a “dirty plan” in the İstanbul blast and is now using it as a pretext for its military offensive in Syria and Iraq.

“They are raining down bombs on Kurds, abusing the pain and anger over the killing of our sisters and brothers in İstiklal,” tweeted Demirtaş.

Following the İstanbul explosion, Demirtaş issued a statement immediately condemning the perpetrators.

Both the PKK and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey accuses of having links to the PKK, denied any involvement in the İstanbul bombing.

Arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on terrorism-related charges, Demirtaş has since then remained in prison despite two European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings in 2018 and 2020 that said Demirtaş was imprisoned for “political” reasons and not for “legal” reasons, ordering his “immediate release.”

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