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Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'


FILE - Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim Square during an attempted coup, July 16, 2016.

FILE - Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim Square during an attempted coup, July 16, 2016.

The top U.S. military general has denounced a report by a Turkish daily alleging that a former U.S. commander had organized the failed military coup in Turkey, calling the article "absurd."

The article by conservative Turkish daily Yeni Safak cites unnamed sources associated with pro-coup detainees and claims former four-star Army General John Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year, made secret trips to Turkey and managed billions of dollars to distribute to pro-coup military personnel in Turkey.

"That's an absurd report that General Campbell would be involved in something like that," General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday at the Pentagon.

The U.S. Army issued a statement Monday saying the retired general "categorically rejects the irresponsible assertions in the Turkish press of involvement in the recent political activities in Turkey."

"There is no truth to the assertions," the statement added.

FILE - Turkish citizens wave their national flags as they protest against the military coup outside Turkey's parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016.

FILE - Turkish citizens wave their national flags as they protest against the military coup outside Turkey's parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016.

Colonel Patrick Seiber, a defense official who spoke with Campbell earlier Monday, told VOA the general had not visited Turkey in his retirement and supports the U.S. government's position on Turkey.

Turkey-US relations

Turkey, which borders Syria and Iraq, is an important ally in the fight against the Islamic State group. The NATO ally's Incirlik Air Base houses U.S. refueling and attack aircraft used in the counter-IS campaign. More than 3,000 U.S. personnel are based in the country, as well.

Commercial power returned Friday to Incirlik after operating on backup generator power since July 16, according to U.S. European Command.

Dunford said his Turkish military counterpart had reached out to him twice in the past week to assure that Turkey is still committed to the counter-IS fight and to the broader U.S.-Turkey partnership.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who spoke with his Turkish counterpart by phone last week, said Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik confirmed that his country's commitments to combating IS would "proceed unabated."

The denounced report comes amid accusations by Turkish authorities that U.S.-based cleric and self-exiled opposition leader Fethullah Gulen was behind the attempted takeover of power.

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey gave the U.S. government evidence of Gulen's involvement in the failed coup. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. is reviewing documents presented by Turkey, which is demanding Gulen's extradition.

Gulen, who resides in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, has denied any involvement in the military coup.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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