Turkey's Supreme Military Council convenes for first time since coup

Turkey's Supreme Military Council gathered Thursday for its first meeting since a failed July 15 coup attempt that has resulted in a purge of government workers, including a mass discharge of high-ranking officers from the military.

About 1,600 officers, including 149 generals, were discharged from the army by decree on Wednesday in the lead-up to the meeting. The actions have all been taken under a state of emergency which went into effect July 21.

Turkey, a NATO member, has just over 350 generals in its armed forces.

The council includes the heads of the various divisions of the army, as well as the prime minister and the defence minister. It is responsible for promotions, removals and helps set the direction of the armed forces.

The council meeting, an annual event, was moved up from its normally scheduled time in August and will only last one day, instead of the usual three.

Two members of the council resigned just before it started, broadcaster NTV reported, adding that the meeting is expected to discuss appointments of replacements for those removed in the nearly two weeks of purges taking place in Turkey since the failed putsch.

The coup attempt of July 15 left more than 260 people dead. The Turkish Armed Forces said 8,651 members of the military, or about 1.5 per cent of the force, took part in the putsch.

The government says it has detained more than 13,000 people, of whom about 9,000 have been formally arrested. Tens of thousands of people have been suspended from the civil service.

Most recently, the government ordered the shutdown of scores of media organizations, including three news agencies, 16 television channels, 23 radio stations and 45 newspapers.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced Thursday that 88 people are suspended from his ministry, including two ambassadors

The government blames the coup on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish-born Islamic preacher based in Pennsylvania since 1999. Gulen was a long-time ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the two fell out publicly in recent years. Gulen denies the charges.

The government says the crackdown is targeting members of Gulen's organization.

Last update: Thu, 28/07/2016 - 12:25
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