Over 300 pro-coup soldiers, 9 generals still at large

Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Işık says 311 soldiers including 9 generals who played a role in the failed coup on July 15, are still at large.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Turkish soldiers surrender to policemen in Istanbul's Taksim Square after their coup failed on July 15, 2016.

More than 300 soldiers including generals, who are suspected of having links to the July 15 coup attempt remain at large, Turkish National Defence Minister Fikri Işık said on Monday.

"There are 311 soldiers including 9 generals who are on the run," Işık told Turkish media adding that efforts were underway to find them.

There is also a group of pro-coup soldiers who fled to Greece with a helicopter after the coup attempt failed.

A Turkish military helicopter landed in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis with eight men on board.

The soldiers then requested political asylum.

Işık also commented on the closure of military schools as part of a series of key decisions made in the aftermath of the deadly coup attempt, which martyred more than 230 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.

The minister said the decision would affect 3,900 students in military schools.

"These schools are used as strongholds of Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO). We have carried out technical analyses. The Measuring, Selection and Placement Center [OSYM] started administering the military school entrance exam in 2000. The exam questions between 2000-2014 were all leaked," he said.

Işık added that the technical analyses also revealed that over 95 percent of the current military school students "are connected to FETO".

Under a statutory decree announced on Monday, Turkey's land, naval, and air forces have now been placed under control of the Defence Ministry, while Turkish Coast Guard and Gendarmerie General Command have been brought under the control of the Interior Ministry.

The move allows the president and the prime minister to receive information directly from the force commanders when it is necessary and to give them direct orders, which will be fulfilled immediately without approval from any other authority.

The decree also closes all of Turkey’s war academies, military high schools, and high schools that train non-commissioned officers, to be replaced by a new university called the National Defence University which will fall under the control of the Defence Ministry.

The university will offer new institutions to train staff officers and give postgraduate education, including war academies and vocational schools that train non-commissioned officers.

The decree also assigns Ankara's Gulhane Military Medical Academy and military hospitals across Turkey under the Health Ministry.

Health service priorities will be given to the relatives of martyrs and veterans.

A total of 3,073 military personnel including 158 general and admirals have been dismissed from Turkish Armed Forces over links to FETO.