The Turkish Medical Association criticized Turkey's attack on Syrian Kurds. Turkey arrested its leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(Image credit: Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Turkish authorities detained Turkish Medical Association chief Rasit Tukel and seven other members of the association, accusing them of violating anti-terrorism laws by criticizing Turkey's attack on U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria's Afrin area. The Turkish Medical Association had warned about the humanitarian costs of the attack on the YPG-held areas near the Turkish border, leading President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to accuse the medical association of being "terrorist lovers." Prosecutors issued warrants for 11 Turkish Medical Association members in all, Turkish media says.

The doctors are not the only ones being targeted in what Reporters Without Borders calls Turkey's "witch hunt against critics." Turkish authorities said Monday they have detained up to 311 people for engaging in "terrorist propaganda" by criticizing the military operation on social media. Turkey considers the YPG militias an extension of its outlawed Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers Party. The U.S. has relied on the YPG fighters as its most effective ground force fighting the Islamic State in Syria. At least 61 civilians have been killed so far in the Turkish assault on Afrin, which started Jan. 20, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

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