Turkey re­stricts in­ter­net af­ter re­lease of IS video

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ANKARA:

Turkey re­stricted ac­cess to social media web­sites for sev­eral hours af­ter the Is­lamic State group re­leased a video pur­port­edly show­ing two Turk­ish sol­diers being burned alive, as Turk­ish war­planes yesterday pounded the ex­trem­ist-held town in Syria near where the sol­diers are be­lieved to have gone miss­ing. IS re­leased the video late Thurs­day, which pur­ports to show the killing of two sol­diers cap­tured near the north­ern Syr­ian town of Al-Bab last month. Turk­ish of­fi­cials have not com­mented on the video. Syr­ian ac­tivists said the sol­diers went miss­ing in the area of al-Dana, north­west of AlBab, in late Novem­ber.

Turkey Blocks, an in­ter­net mon­i­tor­ing web­site, said it had de­tected the “throt­tling of Twit­ter and YouTube,” af­fect­ing many users in Turkey. Turkey fre­quently re­stricts ac­cess to social media web­sites to pre­vent the spread of graphic images and other ma­te­rial au­thor­i­ties say would harm pub­lic or­der or se­cu­rity. The web­sites ap­peared to be back to nor­mal yesterday.

Po­lice mean­while rounded up 31 sus­pected IS mil­i­tants in Is­tan­bul and were search­ing for 10 oth­ers wanted by prose­cu­tors in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ex­trem­ist group, the state-run Anadolu Agency re­ported.

Turk­ish war­planes have mean­while car­ried out airstrikes over the past three days on al-Bab, killing dozens of peo­ple. The IS-run Aa­maq news agency said a Fri­day airstrike on AlBab killed at least 20 peo­ple, and re­leased a video show­ing in­fants among the dead being pulled from the de­bris.

The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said Fri­day’s airstrike killed 16 peo­ple, in­clud­ing three chil­dren. It said 88 peo­ple have been killed by airstrikes over the past three days.

Turkey sent ground troops into north­ern Syria in Au­gust to sup­port Syr­ian op­po­si­tion forces in clearing a bor­der area of IS mil­i­tants and to pre­vent Syr­ian Kurds from mak­ing greater ter­ri­to­rial ad­vances. At least 37 Turk­ish sol­diers have been killed in north­ern Syria since then, in­clud­ing 16 dur­ing the clashes in Al-Bab this week.

Yesterday, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan de­clared that the Turk­ish-sup­ported of­fen­sive to re­cap­ture Al-Bab was on the verge of com­ple­tion, with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion. “Now Al-Bab is al­most com­pleted and our armed forces, to­gether with the (Syr­ian op­po­si­tion fight­ers) are sort­ing it out,” Er­do­gan said, at a cer­e­mony mark­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a nat­u­ral gas ter­mi­nal in west­ern Turkey. — AP

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