Turkish authorities round up high-ranking military officers for alleged Gülen links

Security forces have detained 160 out of 238 suspects in simultaneous raids across Turkey and Northern Cyprus over suspected links to an outlawed group Ankara blames for orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

The operation, covering 60 provinces, was part of a four-year-old crackdown against the network of U.S.-based Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen.

Prosecutors in the western İzmir province ordered that 218 active-duty military personnel, including high-ranking officers, be taken into custody, state-run Anadolu news agency reported, citing unnamed security sources on Tuesday.

The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement via pay phones, Anadolu said.

The government has been pursuing members of the religious group since surviving the failed putsch, which it says was carried out by Gülenists who infiltrated the military, state institutions and the police. Turkey has sacked hundreds of thousands of public officials and more than 20,000 military personnel.

Ankara says the crackdown is necessary to root out the banned group and to eradicate its once considerable influence in Turkey. Critics argue that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used the failed coup as a pretext to quash all kinds of dissent, pointing to the flimsy nature of the evidence offered in support of many accusations.