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Turkey Intensifies Failed Coup Crackdown

  • VOA News

Turkey Military Coup: Supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan wave Turkish flags during an anti coup rally at Taksim square in central Istanbul, on Sunday, July 31, 2016.

Turkey Military Coup: Supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan wave Turkish flags during an anti coup rally at Taksim square in central Istanbul, on Sunday, July 31, 2016.

Turkish forces detained nine soldiers early Monday who are suspected of attacking a hotel where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was staying during an attempted coup in mid-July.

The captures were made near the resort town of Marmaris, and followed the detention last week of several other soldiers accused of targeting Erdogan. The president had been vacationing in Marmaris on July 15 when the attempt to overthrow his government began and has said he left his hotel shortly before a group of soldiers attacked.

Monday's captures are the latest in a crackdown against those who allegedly played a role in the attempted coup.

Sunday, the government dismissed nearly 1,400 military personnel, including Erdogan's top military adviser, as the president also brought the country's armed forces under civilian rule.

More than 50,000 people have now lost their jobs across the country and more than 18,000 have been detained in connection with the coup attempt, which the government has blamed on Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is an Erdogan opponent who has lived in the United States for nearly two decades and has denied any connection in the uprising. Turkey has demanded the U.S. extradite the 75-year-old Gulen and sent documents on his alleged involvement in the failed coup to U.S. officials.

The top U.S. military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, is visiting Turkey Monday as part of a trip to assess the battle against the Islamic State group. The U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the militants has been using Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey for about a year after getting approval from Erdogan.

Meanwhile, pro-Erdogan supporters are set to rally in Cologne, Germany on Sunday. Germany is home to about three million people with Turkish roots.

Turkey's sports minister is expected to attend the demonstration, but German officials banned video messages from Turkey's leaders from outside Germany.

Clashes during the short-lived coup bid killed more than 235 people and wounded nearly 10 times that many, but the major impact of the attempt to remove Erdogan has been the wave of detentions, firings and suspensions

FILE - Turkish soldiers detain Staff Sergeant Erkan Cikat, suspected of being involved in the recent coup attempt, in Marmaris, Turkey, July 25, 2016.

Turkey's Western allies condemned the coup as soon as it occurred, and have restated their support for Erdogan repeatedly since then. However, as the purges expanded, the allies also have become concerned about the scale of the crackdown.

Erdogan has responded sharply to any perceived criticism from abroad this month. Speaking from his presidential palace Friday evening, he accused the West of deserting Turkey in its hour of need: "Some people give us advice; they say they are worried. Mind your own business! Look at your own deeds!"

Erdogan indicated some of his future plans in a wide-ranging interview Saturday with the private Turkish news channel A-Haber. He announced parliament would soon receive "a small constitutional package" that would bring the country's National Intelligence Organization and the chief of staff of the armed forces under the president's direct control.

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