Turkey orders arrest of more than 100 military personnel over suspected Gulen ties

The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the arrest of 50 suspects. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Turkey orders arrest of more than 100 military personnel over suspected Gulen ties

  • Police operations targeting supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen have been carried out regularly since the failed putsch and have recently gained momentum
  • More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked

ISTANBUL: Turkey ordered the arrest of more than 100 soldiers and former military students over suspected links to the network of the US-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating a 2016 attempted coup, prosecutors and state media said on Friday.
Police operations targeting supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen have been carried out regularly since the failed putsch and have recently gained momentum. Gulen denies involvement in the coup attempt, in which 250 people were killed.
The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the arrest of 50 suspects — six of them officers and the rest military academy students expelled after the putsch — in an investigation into people linked to Gulen in the military.
This operation, spread across 16 provinces, was focused on calls made over fixed phone lines, the statement said.
In the southern Adana province, prosecutors ordered another 52 soldiers arrested, 42 of them serving, in an operation spread across 20 provinces, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
It said colonels, majors, lieutenants and other serving officers were facing arrest over pay phone calls they made to other alleged Gulen-linked people. Many suspects have already been detained, it added.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges. Widespread operations are still routine.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concerns over the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. The government has said the security measures were necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces.


Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

Updated 22 February 2019
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Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

  • The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria
  • The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital

NEAR BAGHOU: Trucks loaded with civilians left the last Daesh enclave in eastern Syria on Friday, as US-backed forces waited to inflict final defeat on the surrounded militants.
Reporters near the front line at Baghouz saw dozens of trucks driving out with civilians inside them, but it was not clear if more remained in the tiny pocket.
The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria after it lost the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.
The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital, Raqqa, in 2017, but does not want to mount a final attack until all civilians are out.
The US-led coalition which supports the SDF has said Islamic State’s “most hardened fighters” remain holed up in Baghouz, close to the Iraqi frontier.
Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF’s media office, earlier told Reuters that more than 3,000 civilians were estimated to still be inside Baghouz and there would be an attempt to evacuate them on Friday.
“If we succeed in evacuating all the civilians, at any moment we will take the decision to storm Baghouz or force the terrorists to surrender,” he said.
Though the fall of Baghouz marks a milestone in the campaign against Islamic State and the wider conflict in Syria, the militant group is still seen as a major security threat.
It has steadily turned to guerrilla warfare and still holds territory in a remote, sparsely populated area west of the Euphrates River — a part of Syria otherwise controlled by the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.
The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 troops, saying they had defeated Daesh militants in Syria.

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