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Top official from the Syrian-Kurd PYD arrested in Prague

Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-president Salih Muslim gives a press conference, on February 9, 2015 in Paris. (AFP)
ANKARA: A senior member of the main Kurdish party in northern Syria who is wanted by Turkey has been arrested in Prague.
Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), was added to the Turkish interior ministry’s “Red List” of wanted “terrorists” earlier this month. Turkey offered a $1 million reward for his arrest.
He was detained in the Czech capital on Saturday after a request from Ankara, the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported.He is accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
Turkey says the PYD, which is the most powerful Kurdish group in northern Syria, is also a terrorist organization directly linked to the PKK.
Ankara is expected to file an extradition request for Muslim.
Muslim recently criticized the Turkish offensive against the armed wing of the PYD in Kurdish-held Afrin in Syria.
Turkey also made a request through Interpol in 2016 for Muslim’s arrest on alleged connections to a bombing in Ankara that killed 28 people. The PKK splinter group the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) admitted carrying out the attack and the PYD denied any involvement.
In 2016, the PYD opened several offices in Europe, including Stockholm, Paris and Prague, to establish cooperation with European politicians and gain political support.
Many PYD officials have visited Europe, especially to France, Italy, and Sweden.
The office in Prague closed after just a few months due to the lack of support in the country.
Oytun Orhan, a Syria analyst at ORSAM, a think-tank in Ankara, said the arrest is important in showing that Turkey’s approach to the PYD is recognized by European countries.
“PYD was conducting many political activities in Europe and Prague was one of the first capital cities where it opened an office,” he said. “If these arrests continue and covers other senior officials of PYD, the joint counter-terrorism efforts between Turkey and European countries will take a new momentum.”

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