Yusuf Ozan, a presenter for the pro-government Akit TV, on Sunday targeted the Cumhuriyet daily over a story it ran on the Afrin operation in Syria, saying Cumhuriyet journalists deserve to be executed.
Commenting on a Cumhuriyet report about 11 Turkish soldiers killed on Saturday in the Afrin region of northwestern Syria, Ozan said: “You liked 11. It gave you a rush and you put it in the headline. I wish Turkey was a one-man regime that would close you down in two minutes. I wish Turkey was a Sharia regime that would execute you. I’m saying this clearly: You are all traitors.”
“Democracy is a pretext. It is permissible to kill you during war. Maybe I am being defeated by my rage. You are really dishonest. God condemns you. You are dishonest, undignified. You are atheists. You are crypto Zionists,” added Ozan.
The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin region of Syria against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish military stated on Sunday that 12 soldiers had been killed in the last 24 hours during an operation in the Afrin region of Syria, including two soldiers who died when a helicopter crashed. The Evrensel daily reported that 32 Turkish military members have been lost since the beginning of the operation three weeks ago.
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday announced that 449 people have been detained on terror charges due to their posts on social media critical of the Turkish military incursion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, while 124 have been detained for taking part in street demonstrations protesting the operation.
President Erdoğan on Jan. 21 warned the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) not to take to the streets to protest the operation in Afrin: “You are being closely followed. If you try to take to the streets, know that our security forces will be at your neck.”
“If anyone is in the streets upon calls [from the HDP], they will pay dearly for it. This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed,” Erdoğan added.
Kral FM radio host Ali Şentürk, known as “Afrikalı Ali,” called on security forces to kill anybody who criticizes Turkey’s operation in Afrin.