Turkish special forces backed by helicopters, drones and the navy hunted a remaining group of commandos thought to have been involved in the attempt on President Tayyip Erdogan’s life during the abortive coup, as a crackdown on suspected plotters widened on Tuesday.
More than 1,000 members of the security forces were involved in the manhunt for the 11 rogue soldiers in the hills around the Mediterranean coastal resort of Marmaris.
The failed coup is assumed to have been orchestrated by none other than a U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The attempted power grab has resulted in launching a fierce crackdown on Gulen’s suspected followers.
More than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges and civil servants have been arrested, suspended or put under investigation.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, denies involvement and says the coup may have been planned by Erdogan himself to justify a crackdown, a suggestion the president has roundly condemned.
Gulen wrote that if members of his “Hizmet” (Service) network had been involved in the attempted coup they had betrayed his ideals.
Countering Gulen’s persistent denial, almost two thirds of Turks believe Gulen was behind the coup attempt, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
On July 15 rogue soldiers commandeered fighter jets, helicopters and tanks to close bridges and try to seize airports. They bombed parliament, police headquarters and other key buildings in their bid for power.
At least 246 people were killed, many of them civilians, and 2,000 wounded.
Around a third of Turkey’s roughly 360 serving generals have been detained since the abortive coup, more than 100 of them already charged pending trial.
Two Turkish generals based in Afghanistan were detained in Dubai, a Turkish official said on Tuesday, naming them as Major-General Cahit Bakir, a commander of Turkish forces serving in the international NATO-led security force in Afghanistan, and Brigadier Sener Topuc, who oversees education and aid in the country.