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Iran Press TV

Turkey expels 73 more military personnel over coup

Iran Press TV

Wed Sep 7, 2016 6:27PM

Turkey has expelled dozens of new officers and soldiers as part of its crackdown on plotters and sympathizers of the July 15 coup attempt.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that 73 more personnel of the country's air force had been relieved of their duties over alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the United States who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup that led to more than 250 deaths.

The ministry published the statement on Twitter, saying the decision strengthened the military "as it gets rid of traitor FETO," a reference to Gulen.

After the coup was declared over on July 16, Turkey began a heavy-handed crackdown on those deemed to have played a role in the attempt. More than 20,000 have been arrested, while over 70,000 have been dismissed or suspended from their positions in the military and public institutions. The crackdown has faced mounting criticism from government and rights campaigners, but Ankara says it will continue the purge to prevent a repetition of the attempt.

Authorities issued 105 detention orders on Wednesday for commanders and soldiers with alleged links to Gulen, said the state-run Anadolu news agency. It added that most of those targeted in the arrests, which covered 17 provinces across Turkey, were "imams running the military forces," a term used to designate Gulen followers who hold important command positions in the network.

The military dismissed 820 of its personnel last week with reports saying 648 of them had been jailed. Estimates say Turkey has so far discharged a total of 5,000 military personnel, including 151 generals and admirals.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vowed on Wednesday that Ankara would cooperate with the Council of Europe to ensure that trials held for those charged over the coup would be clear and straightforward.

"We (will) cooperate with the Council of Europe to make this process very transparent," said Cavusoglu after a meeting in Strasburg, France, with Thorbjorn Jagland, head of the rights body.

Jagland had warned Turkey following the coup that the government and judiciary must not go "too wide" in casting the net they use for hunting the plotters.

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