News ID: 210323
Published: 0506 GMT February 20, 2018

Turkey frees top pro-Kurdish politician detained over Afrin offensive opposition

Turkey frees top pro-Kurdish politician detained over Afrin offensive opposition

Turkish officials have released the former co-leader of the country’s main pro-Kurdish party, whom they had arrested a week ago over her opposition to Ankara’s ongoing cross-border offensive in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said in a post published on Twitter that Serpil Kemalbay had been set free.

“Defending peace is not a crime; it is an obligation, an honor!” the post read.

An HDP official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that Kemalbay will have to report regularly to the authorities and cannot leave the country as she is placed under a travel ban.

Police arrested Kemalbay in the capital Ankara on February 13. She had handed over her job to Pervin Buldan at a party congress two days earlier.

Yuksekdag succeeded Figen Yuksekdag, who was stripped of her parliamentary status last May after being jailed on terrorism charges in November 2016.

Turkish media outlets reported that Kemalbay had been detained over calls for protests against Operation Olive Branch launched late last month.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the terrorist group.

The controversy over a possible Syria border force first started on January 14 when a report emerged on Reuters saying that the military coalition led by the United States in Syria was planning to set up a large border force of up to 30,000 personnel with the aid of its militia allies.

The Syrian government has already condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.

Damascus "strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syrian territory," Syria’s official news agency, SANA, cited a Syrian Foreign Ministry source as saying on January 20.

“Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish regime that it was informed of this military operation,” the source added.

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