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Pro-Kurdish party members among 47 detained during protest against Turkish offensive in N. Syria, Iraq

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Turkish police on Monday broke up a protest that included members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) against a military offensive launched in northern Syria and Iraq over the weekend against Kurdish militants, detaining 47 people, local media reported.

Turkey on Sunday carried out airstrikes on the bases of Kurdish militants in 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).

The PKK has waged a bloody insurgency for decades and is designated a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, although it has denied involvement in the İstanbul explosion.

Among the protestors who gathered in Dağkapı Square in southeastern Diyarbakır province to make a press statement against the offensive were HDP lawmaker Dersim Dağ, the party’s Diyarbakır provincial co-chair Zeyyat Ceylan and DBP Diyarbakır provincial co-chair Seval Gülmez.

According to Turkish media reports, the police broke up the protest and prevented demonstrators from reading out the press statement, detaining a total of 47 people, including Ceylan and Gülmez.

Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on Kurdish militant bases in Syria and Iraq on Sunday, destroying 89 targets, the Defense Ministry said.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday said a total of 184 terrorists have been “neutralized” since the beginning of the offensive.

Turkey will hold presidential and general elections in June 2023. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is accused by his critics of resorting to cross-border military operations in Syria and Iraq ahead of every election in order to boost nationalist sentiment in the country and win the support of nationalist voters.

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