Turkey has so far detained 573 people for social media posts and protests criticizing its military offensive in Syria, the government said on Monday.\r\nThe crackdown, which has extended to the national medical association, has deepened concerns about free speech under President Tayyip Erdogan, who has criticized opponents of the military intervention as \u201ctraitors\u201d.\r\nTurkey last month launched an air and ground offensive, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, against the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria\u2019s northwestern Afrin region. Authorities have repeatedly warned they would prosecute those opposing, criticizing or misrepresenting the incursion.\r\n\u201cSince the start of Operation Olive Branch, 449 people have been detained for spreading terrorist propaganda on social media and 124 people detained for taking part in protest action,\u201d the Interior Ministry said in a statement.\r\n\u00a0\r\nThe operation has been widely supported by Turkey\u2019s mainly pro-government media and by most political parties, with the exception of the pro-Kurdish opposition.\r\nLast week, a prosecutor ordered the detention of 11 senior members of the Turkish Medical Association, including its chairman, after the organization criticized the incursion, saying: \u201cNo to war, peace immediately\u201d.\r\nErdogan criticized the body as traitors. Detention orders were issued for another 13 people for supporting the medics.\r\nThree of the doctors were later released on probation, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.\r\n\u201cThere are laws that prohibit the glorification of terrorism, support for terrorism through propaganda and media. The prosecutors are implementing the laws,\u201d Erdogan\u2019s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told reporters in Istanbul at the weekend.\r\nAnkara considers the U.S.-backed YPG, which controls Afrin, to be a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has fought an insurgency in Turkey\u2019s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.\r\nTurkey is in the midst of a widening crackdown that began after a failed coup attempt in July 2016. Some 50,000 people have been jailed and 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs.\r\nCritics, including rights groups and some Western allies, say Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent. The latest arrests have also drawn criticism from the European Union.\r\nTurkey says its measures are necessary due to the gravity of the security threats it faces.\r\nReuters.