Turkey places key leaders of pro-Kurdish party under arrest

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag
Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag

The two co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have been formally arrested Friday by a court, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

They were among 12 HDP members of parliament who were detained in overnight raids. In total, five elected HDP legislators are under arrest, including the faction chief in parliament.

european-unionThe detentions and arrest have drawn condemnations from the European Union. In addition there is concern over restrictions on the Internet in Turkey, including efforts to block Twitter and Facebook and messaging applications like WhatsApp.

The government accuses the HDP of having links to the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the leaders are facing terrorism-related charges, including spreading propaganda. The HDP says it rejects all violence and is not the political wing of the armed group.

Blast rocks Mediterranean resort in Turkey

An explosion Tuesday in the parking lot of the local chamber of trade in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya in southern Turkey caused minor injuries, according to Turkish media reports.

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City mayor Menderes Turel told the broadcaster NTV that “10 to 12 people were slightly injured by flying glass” in the explosion at the Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry building. The blast occurred at 8.50am.

Turel told CNN Turk channel the blast was being investigated and it was “too early” to make assumptions as to the cause.

“The blast may not be a terror attack… we must wait for official information,” Turel said.

Antalya Chamber of Trade and Industry head Davut Cetin also told CNN Turk there were no fatalities in the explosion.

Over the past year, Turkey has suffered a series of attacks blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group and Kurdish militants.

Scene of bombing
Scene of bombing

TV images showed a wrecked, burned-out car and smashed glass nearby. At least four cars nearby were also damaged, Dogan news agency said.

An eyewitness who was at the building told CNN Turk the blast smashed windows and left people bloodied, while a reporter for the Dogan news agency said one vehicle was blown apart.

Antalya is a major tourist resort on Turkey‘s Mediterranean coast. In August, two rockets hit a commercial facility near a resort town in the province, but caused no casualties.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for that attack, but Kurdish and far-left militants have staged similar attacks, mostly against the security forces, in the past.

The incident occurred 11 days after three rockets hit a roadside fishmonger in the popular tourist region, but without causing casualties.

Turkey Bombs U.S.-Backed Kurds in Syria

Turkish F-16
Turkish F-16

Turkish jets bombed U.S.-backed Kurdish militants in Syria Thursday night — with each side offering vastly different figures on how many fighters were killed.

The NATO member’s military said it killed between 160 and 200 Kurdish militants north of Aleppo, according to the Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s state-run press service.

Warplanes dropped 26 bombs on 18 targets, including nine buildings being used as headquarters, shelters and an arsenal, Anadolu cited a military statement as stating.

But Mahmoud Barkhadan, a senior Kurdish commander, told The Associated Press that the death toll was far lower, putting it at no more than 10.

He said Turkish tanks had been shelling their positions since Wednesday and that the assault was joined by jets overnight. Barkhadan said around 20 of his fighters were injured.

The strikes came in Aleppo province, north of the embattled city, where the Kurds have been making advances against ISIS in recent days, the AP reported.

Both Turkey and the Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are fighting against ISIS in Syria. The Kurds and Syrian rebels also share a common enemy in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But despite these shared goals in Syria’s complex civil war, Turkey also sees the Kurds in Syria as a growing threat as the militants recapture territory from ISIS along the Syria-Turkey border.

Furthermore, Ankara views the Syrian Kurds as an extension of its own banned Kurdish militant group, the PKK, which it considers a terrorist organization.

This has caused friction between Turkey and its NATO ally the United States, which backs the Syrian Kurds as the most effective force battling ISIS.

Russia says it could sell missile defense systems to Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia could sell missile defense systems to Turkey.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, in comments carried Friday by Russian news agencies, that Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed potential arms deals at a meeting in Istanbul last week. He said that Russia would considering selling various missile defense systems if Turkey wants them.

russia-turkey-flagsTurkey was negotiating a nuclear defense deal with China, which had been a source of tension with NATO partners, before the talks broke down last year.

The statement comes just a few months after Russia agreed to restore ties with Turkey. Relations between the two nations were nearly severed after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near the Turkish-Syrian border last year.

Car bomb explodes near Ataturk Airport in Istanbul

Ambulances at the scene of car bombing.
Ambulances at the scene of car bombing.

A car bomb exploded last week near a police station in Istanbul, Turkey. The police station is located near the Ataturk Airport. Local media outlets reported that at least 5 people were injured. Local media outlets reported that many military personnel and ambulances have been seen near the site of the explosion.

Turkish media outlets released pictures of ambulances driving towards the explosion site and military personnel spreading out in the area. In the last couple of months, Turkey suffered several terror attacks that were blamed on the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) or ISIS.

Around 50 people were killed and over 90 injured in a car bombing in the city of Gaziantep in August. The explosion happened during the middle of a large wedding and no organization claimed responsibility.

Iraqi Militia Finds Horrifying Pic of Saudi Slave Market

A young Yazidi woman for sale in a slave market
A young Yazidi woman for sale in a slave market

Fighters of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) seized a jihadi’s phone after he was killed fighting in the Iraqi town of Al-Shirqat. On it they found a picture of a young woman, believed to be a Yazidi, kneeling on the floor in front of a crowd of men.

Using location tracking data from the phone the militia identified the event as a slave auction in Saudi Arabia.

“Our investigation officer was appalled at the set of images involving what we believe to be an Iraqi Yazidi woman taken as a sex slave,” a spokesperson from the PMU told the Sun Online.

The Yazidis are an Iraqi ethnic group with their own religion, who have been persecuted by the Islamic State who regard them as devil worshippers. Many Yazidi women and girls were kidnapped in 2014 and taken into sex-slavery.

There were “images were of the auction in Saudi Arabia of the woman and sexually explicit materials of the fighter and the woman in a hotel. Location data was observed on the image file as enabled by default on many smart phones,” he added.

“Further images involved ISIS members in Iraqi-areas occupied by ISIS including Mosul and Baiji, which indicates this fighter has been with ISIS for a long period of time as Baiji was liberated by us months ago,” he said.

The unit has announced it will attempt to find and rescue the woman in the photo.

‘”We are engaging with our Yazidi members to find the family of the woman, location and health status,” the spokesman added. “We hope to liberate her and all Iraqi women taken as sexual slaves by ISIS within Iraq or outside of Iraq as their basic human rights are being denied.”

This is not the first time revelations about the brutal sex trade have surfaced. In 2015, a Yazidi woman named Jinan escaped ISIS slavery and wrote a book chronicling her three months in captivity.

She spoke of slave markets taking place in large halls, where the women were displayed like “livestock” for the inspection of male buyers from Iraq and Syria but also Westerners and Saudi and Gulf Arabs.

She reports an owner as saying “a man cannot buy more than three women unless he is from Syria, Turkey or the Gulf.” Another man reportedly responded, “It’s good for business… A Saudi buyer has transport and food costs that a member of the Islamic State does not. He has a higher quota to make his purchases profitable.It is a good deal. the Islamic State increases its profits to support the mujahideen and our foreign brothers are satisfied.”

Jinan also said she was tortured and abused, including being forced to drink mice infested water and chained up outside in the hot sun.

She said: “These men are not human. They only think of death. They take drugs constantly. They seek vengeance against everyone. They say that one day Islamic State will rule over the whole world.”

Man Kicks Woman in Face for Wearing Shorts

Turkey flag map 2A man who kicked a woman in the face for wearing shorts while threatening to kill her has been released without charges by a Turkish court, reported the UK Daily Mail.

Despite threatening to kill her and leaving her severely bruised, a Turkish court released the man saying that he had not committed any crime.

A bus in Istanbul; Ayşegül Terzi (inset)
A bus in Istanbul; Ayşegül Terzi (inset)

The incident occurred in Istanbul when the 35-year-old man attacked Ayşegül Terzi, a 23-year old nurse, on a bus. Shouting at her, “Those wearing shorts must die!” the man told the court he had been angered by the way the woman was dressed. “The shorts she was wearing were not appropriate. That’s why I was angry and behaved so,” he said.

Terzi, who sustained severe bruising, was saved when three men stopped the attacker. The incident was caught on CCTV:

Since the Islamists came to power, Turkey has become a leading country afflicted by honor killings and is now ranked as one of the worst countries to be a woman. Forty percent Turkish women experience some form of physical violence in their lives, a rate much higher than that in Europe or the U.S.

Professor Aysel Çelikel, head of the Support for Contemporary Living Association, or ÇYDD, cited the root cause behind the alarming rise in violence against women saying, “Women’s rights are going backward as much as Islamist conservatism is increasing in society.”