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Turkey orders arrest of 176 military personnel over suspected Fethullah Gulen links

Turkey has ordered the arrest of 176 serving military personnel over suspected links to the network which Ankara says was behind an attempted coup three years ago, the Istanbul chief prosecutors' office said on Tuesday.

Gulen has denied any involvement in failed 2016 coup

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan has been accused by some of using the period after the failed coup to try and quash dissent. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Turkey has ordered the arrest of 176 serving military personnel over suspected links to the network which Ankara says was behind an attempted coup three years ago, the Istanbul chief prosecutors' office said on Tuesday.

Among those facing arrest were a colonel, two lieutenant colonels, five majors, seven captains and 100 lieutenants in an operation encompassing the army, air force and navy, the statement said.

Ankara says U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen masterminded the failed putsch on July 15, 2016. He has denied any involvement.

In the three-year purge since the coup attempt, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his home in Saylorsburg, Pa., on July 29, 2016. (Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

Turkey's Western allies and rights groups have criticized the scale of the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

Ankara has defended the clampdown as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat which Turkey faces, vowing to eradicate Gulen's network.

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