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Turkey arrests 150 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

The operation is part of an ongoing clampdown on people accused of links to a failed coup attempt in 2016
Erdogan flag
A man waves a flag bearing the image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 15 July 2018, the second anniversary of a failed coup attempt (Ozan Kose/AFP)

Turkish authorities detained 150 people on Tuesday in an operation targeting military personnel suspected of links to a network that Ankara says was behind a 2016 coup attempt, according to state-owned news agency Anadolu.

The raids, which took place in 53 provinces as well as North Cyprus, are part of a crackdown on alleged followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen which has been ongoing since a failed coup in July 2016, when 250 people were killed.

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Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. He denies any involvement in the attempted coup.

Prosecutors issued a detention order for 184 suspects, including two colonels, seven majors and 22 captains, reported Anadolu. Operations to detain other suspects have also begun.

Erdogan has for years accused Gulen's supporters of establishing a "parallel state", infiltrating the police, judiciary, military and other state institutions.

Since the coup attempt, roughly 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Turkey's western allies, including the European Union, as well as rights groups, have criticised the crackdown, while Ankara has defended the measures as a necessary response to the perceived security threat.