By Hamdi Firat Buyuk
Turkish police and security forces have so far detained 177 soldiers in nationwide operations to arrest alleged members of Fethullah Gulen’s network, which Ankara accuse of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Prosecutor’s offices in Izmir, Istanbul Ankara have issued arrest warrants for a total of 242 suspects, the majority of whom are army and gendarmerie officers including several captains, majors and a colonel.
The ones who were not detained are still being sought by security forces.
The operations are among the largest against army and gendarmerie officers who are allegedly linked to US-based Turkish cleric Gulen, whose network Ankara refers to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation, or FETO.
“The operations were launched at one in the morning against FETO members who infiltrated the Turkish Armed Forces via several frauds in entrance exams in 2005, 2011 and 2015,” the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Izmir said in a written statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses Gulen and his network of establishing a parallel structure within the state and orchestrating the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
During a night of violence, coup plotters killed 251 people and injured 2,200 more.
Since then, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry, more than 15,000 Turkish Armed Forces members, 31,000 police officers, more than 4,000 gendarmerie officers and 348 coastguard members have been dismissed from their jobs because of their alleged links with Gulen.
In total, more than 125,000 public servants have been dismissed and 511,000 people detained or arrested.
There are still there are more than 30,000 people in Turkish prisons because of their alleged links with the Gulen network.
The Turkish opposition and rights groups accuse Erdogan of using the failed coup to target his critics and consolidate his rule.