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Turkey detains Syrian singer Omar Souleyman over alleged ties to Kurdish militants

Published: Updated:

Turkish authorities have detained internationally-known Syrian musician Omar Souleyman over alleged links to Kurdish militants, a local security source and Turkish media said on Wednesday.

A search warrant had been issued for Omar Almasikh – the singer’s real name – and Turkish gendarmarie forces detained him in a house in the Syrian border province of Sanliurfa after receiving a tip about his whereabouts, the source said.

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After beginning his career performing at weddings and other events in northern Syria, Omar Souleyman’s upbeat electronic music attained international fame in recent years. He has released several albums and collaborated with musicians such as Bjork.

Demiroren agency and other media also reported his detention. He was taken to hospital for health check and was expected to be taken to a gendarmarie precinct for questioning, the source said.

The musician is accused of being a member of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has led an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Turkey’s military has carried out three cross-border operations against the YPG in Syria and frequently detains people domestically for alleged links to the PKK.

Omar Souleyman has said his lively music blends elements of Arabic, Kurdish and other cultures in the region. He has regularly performed in countries including Turkey, the United States and Japan, as well as across Europe.

Turkey is home to some 3.6 million refugees who fled Syria’s 10-year war.

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