Syrian Kurdish leader arrested in Prague at Turkey's request

Eileen GuzmanFeb 26, 2018

"Our wish is that he is extradited", Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said, noting both Turkey and the Czech Republic were parties to the European Convention on Extradition.

Earlier in February, Turkey elevated Muslim to its most-wanted list, and offered a $1 million (€810,000) reward for his capture.

The Turkish Justice Ministry said he was being tried in absentia for his alleged involvement in a March 2016 vehicle bomb attack on Turkey's capital, which killed 36 people and injured 125.

Muslim, who is a Syrian citizen, remains a highly influential figure inside the group despite stepping down as party co-chair a year ago.

Czech police didn't immediately confirm the report.

Turkey considers the PYD a "terrorist group" linked to outlawed Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey's own borders.

The Turkish justice ministry said if Muslim is remanded in custody by a Czech court, a formal extradition request will be sent to Prague.

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The TEV-DEM coalition, to which Muslim belongs, said in a statement that Turkey had issued an arrest warrant for him and condemned his detention as an "illegal act".

Muslim was co-chair of the PYD, the major component of the coalition that runs autonomous parts of northern Syria. He was replaced in 2017.

A Turkish soldier was martyred in Syria's northwestern region of Afrin as Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch continues in the region, the military said on Sunday.

At the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Turkey wanted to negotiate with Syrian Kurds and met with Muslim several times in Ankara. The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched an incursion into northern Syria, seeking to rout the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People's Protection Units or YPG, from the enclave of Afrin. "The police will take the standard steps in line with the law", it said.

The U.S. military support to the PYD and YPG to help fight the militant group Islamic State (IS) in Syria has recently created a major rift between Turkey and the U.S., two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners.

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