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Turkey and the US are ready to drive ISIS from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Edogan has suggested.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said President Barack Obama floated the idea of joint action against the militants when they met at the G20 meeting in China.

He said Turkey would have “no problem” with such action.

In August, Turkey launched an operation inside Syria, targeting both ISIS and Kurdish rebels.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Turkish-backed militia drove ISIS from the border town of Jarablus, but Turkey has also been concerned with checking the advance of Kurdish forces whom it regards as terrorists.

The offensive continues, and Russia, who is allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says it is deeply concerned by the movement of Turkish forces deeper into Syrian territory.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments on Raqqa were published in Turkish media. There has been no confirmation from the US.

“Obama wants to do some things jointly concerning Raqqa,” he said.

“We said this would not be a problem from our perspective.”

“I said <<our soldiers should come together and discuss, then what is necessary will be done>>,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan added.

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The suicide bombing which killed 51 people at a Kurdish wedding party in Gaziantep, Turkey, was carried out by a 12 to 14-year-old, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

President Erdogan said ISIS was behind the attack. Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, is known to have several ISIS cells.

The bomb wounded 69 people, Recep Tayyip Erdogan added, 17 of them seriously.

The bomber targeted the wedding guests as they danced in the street.

Photo euronews

Photo euronews

A suicide bomber believed to have links to ISIS killed two policemen in Gaziantep in May.

In a written statement published by local media, President Erdogan argued there was “no difference” between ISIS, the Kurdish militants of the PKK, and followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the coup attempt last month.

The bomb went off in a part of town popular with students and which has a large Kurdish community.

According to a report by Turkey’s Dogan news agency, the couple had moved to Gaziantep from the Kurdish town of Siirt further east to escape fighting between Kurdish rebels and security forces.

The United States condemned the attack, calling it “barbaric act”.

At least 30 people have been killed and other 94 injured in a bomb attack at an outdoor wedding party in the south Turkish city of Gaziantep, the authorities say.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ISIS was likely to have carried it out amid reports of a suicide bomber targeting the party.

The bomb attack, in an area popular with university students, could be heard across the city.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, is known to have several ISIS cells.

A suicide bomber believed to have links to ISIS killed two policemen in Gaziantep in May.

According to a report by AFP news agency, the bomb went off in a part of town with a large Kurdish community and there seem to have been many Kurds at the wedding.

In a written statement published by local media, President Erdogan argued there was “no difference” between ISIS, the Kurdish militants of the PKK, and followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the coup attempt last month.

“Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us – you will not succeed!” the president said.

On August 20, Turkey’s government said the country would take a more active role in efforts to end the war in Syria.

PM Binali Yildirim said a future political settlement for Syria must not include President Bashar al-Assad, ISIS or Turkey’s own Kurdish separatist rebels, the PKK.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for the first time since the July 15 attempted coup.

Russia is ready to restore economic co-operation and other ties with Turkey, President Vladimir Putin has announced in St. Petersburg.

It is also President Erdogan’s first foreign visit since an attempted coup last month.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked Vladimir Putin, saying “your call straight after the coup attempt was very welcome”.

Russian-Turkish relations soured last November when Turkey shot down a Russian bomber on the Syrian border.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit comes as Turkey’s ties with the West have cooled over criticism of the purge of alleged coup-plotters.

Before leaving Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to Vladimir Putin as his “friend” and said he wanted to open a new page in relations with Russia.

“This visit strikes me as a new milestone in our bilateral relations, starting again from a clean slate,” he told Russia’s Tass news agency.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

Vladimir Putin said their talks would cover “the whole range of our relations… including restoring economic ties, combating terrorism”.

After Turkey shot down the Su-24 jet Russia imposed trade sanctions and suspended Russian package tours to Turkey.

In June, the Kremlin said Recep Tayyip Erdogan had apologized for the downing of the jet and had sent a message expressing “sympathy and deep condolences” to the family of the dead pilot.

Then, after the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, Vladimir Putin expressed support for Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He did not criticize President Erdogan’s crackdown on political opponents and purge of alleged “plotters” in state institutions.

Turkey’s ties with its NATO allies – especially the US – have been strained by disagreements over the Syrian civil war. Turkey’s priority is to weaken the Kurdish separatist forces, while the US is focusing on destroying ISIS.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was angered by criticism from the EU and the US of the mass detentions of suspected plotters. He demanded that the US extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of organizing the coup. But the United States says Turkey must provide solid evidence before such a move can be considered.

Turkey’s Justice Minister, Bekir Bozdag, says more than 26,000 people have been detained after the attempted coup.

They back opposing sides in Syria. Turkey is furious at the scale of Russian air support for Syrian government forces, as Recep Tayyip Erdogan reviles Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has accused Turkey of backing Islamist anti-Assad groups, including some accused of “terrorism” in Russia.

Turkey is at war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the PKK’s Syrian allies. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Russia of arming the PKK.

For centuries Russia and Turkey have been rivals for influence in the Caucasus and Black Sea region.

Turkey was also angered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, accusing Moscow of violating the rights of Crimean Tatars. The Muslim Tatars have long had close ties to Turkey.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would approve the return of the death penalty if it was backed by parliament and the public, he said during a huge rally in Istanbul.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking to a crowd of at least a million who had gathered in Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city.

The rally followed last month’s failed military coup.

President Erdogan also said the state would be cleansed of all supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Fethullah Gulen is blamed by the Turkish government for the attempted uprising. He denies any involvement.

Religious figures and leaders of two of Turkey’s three opposition parties attended the rally. The Kurdish party was not invited.

More than 270 people died in events surrounding the July 15 coup attempt, which triggered a government crackdown.

Thousands of alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen have been detained or dismissed from government jobs.Recep Tayyip Erdogan song Germany

Western nations have been critical of the government’s response to the coup. The EU – which Turkey has applied to join – refuses to accept capital punishment in member states.

The parade ground, built to hold more than a million people, was overflowing, with streets of surrounding neighborhoods clogged by crowds, Reuters news agency reports.

According to government sources, five million people had attended, with the event broadcast live on public screens at smaller rallies across Turkey’s provinces.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the rally: “It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on the death penalty… I declare it in advance, I will approve the decision made by the parliament.

“They say there is no death penalty in the EU… Well, the US has it; Japan has it; China has it; most of the world has it. So they are allowed to have it. We used to have it until 1984. Sovereignty belongs to the people, so if the people make this decision I am sure the political parties will comply.”

He then railed against Fethullah Gulen’s movement, hinting of further hard-line measures to come: “July 15 showed our friends that this country isn’t just strong against political, economic and diplomatic attacks, but against military sabotage as well. It showed that it will not fall, it will not be derailed.

“Of course we have to uncover all members of this organization and eradicate them within the framework of the law, but if we content ourselves with just that, then we as a state and a nation will leave weak our defense against similar viruses.”

The “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” was the climax of three weeks of nightly demonstrations by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters around the country.

Speaking ahead of President Erdogan, PM Binali Yildirim told the rally that Fethullah Gulen would be brought to Turkey and made to pay the price for the coup attempt.

“Let all of you know, the leader of this terrorist group will come to Turkey and pay for what he did,” Binali Yildirim said.

In a rare address to a public rally, the head of Turkey’s armed forces, Hulusi Akar, said “traitors” would be punished in the harshest way, and thanked civilians for their role in defeating the uprising.

The crackdown in Turkey has seen tens of thousands of public sector workers suspended or dismissed, with many having their passports cancelled. There has also been a massive reshuffle of the military.

About 18,000 people have been detained or arrested.

Local branches of the AK Party have been told to begin a purge of suspected Gulenists in their ranks.

Fethullah Gulen was a close ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan until a bitter split between his movement and the party of the president three years ago.

Turkey has listed Fethullah Gulen’s movement as a terrorist organization.

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All but one of the soldiers who are accused of trying to seize Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during last month’s failed coup have been captured.

Special forces arrested another 11 soldiers overnight after a two-week manhunt near Marmaris.

President Erdogan was on holiday at the south-western resort on the night of the coup, but fled before his hotel was raided.

Special forces located the fugitives in a forested area, reports say.

Since the failed putsch Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cracked down on those suspected of being linked to the coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained or dismissed or suspended from roles in the military, judiciary, civil service and education.Erdogan insult contest

Over the weekend the president announced a sweeping reform of Turkey’s armed forces to bring them under full civilian control.

Turkish authorities accuse US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, something he denies.

The rebel soldiers were spotted by villagers hunting boar in the forested area near Marmaris. Gunfire was exchanged during the operation but no casualties were reported.

The soldiers arrested in total last night include Major Sukru Seymen, the alleged commander, according to Anadolu news agency.

More than 20 other members of the military squad suspected of involvement had already been remanded in custody to face trial, the agency reports.

During the attempted coup on July 15 Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke live on TV via his mobile phone. He said he had narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

According to official reports, the president’s security team was tipped off that a squad of soldiers was heading to his hotel and moved him.

Meanwhile, Turkey has summoned Germany’s charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry in Ankara to explain why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was prevented from addressing a rally in Cologne via a video-link on July 31.

At least 30,000 rallied in Cologne in support of the Turkish president.

The German authorities said such messages could stoke political tensions among the three million ethnic Turks living in Germany.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he will put the spy agency and the military chief of staff under his own control.

He also said he wants to close the nation’s military academies.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the proposals would be brought before parliament.

The new measures are the latest in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup on July 15.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Turkish authorities say US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the army-led coup in which at least 246 people died. He denies the allegation.

President Recep Erdogan told Turkey’s A Haber television on July 30: “We are going to introduce a small constitutional package which, if approved, will bring the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and chief of staff under the control of the presidency.”

“Military schools will be shut down… we will establish a national defense university,” he added.

President Erdogan said that the size of the gendarmerie would be cut, but its weaponry would be increased.

The president needs a two-thirds majority for the proposals to be adopted and therefore will have to secure support from opposition parties.

Turkey announced a military reshuffle on July 28, including the dishonorable discharge of 1,700 military servicemen. About 40% of generals and admirals have been discharged since the coup.

More than 66,000 public sector workers have been dismissed from their posts and 50,000 passports cancelled, while the labor ministry is investigating 1,300 of its staff.

The government has shut 142 media outlets and detained several journalists.

A three-month state of emergency has also been declared across Turkey.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he is withdrawing all lawsuits against people charged with insulting him.

He said he was inspired by the feelings of unity in the wake of the recent failed coup.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan also stepped up his attacks on nations criticizing his crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, telling them to “mind your own business”.

The president earlier blasted General Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, saying he was “on the side of the coup plotters”.

Gen. Joseph Votel had said in remarks on July 28 that the jailing of some military leaders could damage Turkish-American military co-operation.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the presidential palace: “I am going to withdraw all the cases regarding the disrespectful insults made against me.”

He said it was a one-off gesture of goodwill.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey elections 2015

Earlier this year, Turkish authorities said some 2,000 people were facing such prosecutions.

Recep Erdogan was also defiant in the face of criticism over his crackdown, which the interior ministry said on July 29 had seen 18,000 detentions.

He said: “Some people give us advice. They say they are worried. Mind your own business! Look at your own deeds.

“Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union… or from the West… Those countries or leaders who are not worried about Turkey’s democracy, the lives of our people, its future – while being so worried about the fate of the putschists – cannot be our friends.”

Speaking at the same event, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey had now succeeded in removing all elements linked to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen from the military.

Turkey blames Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup attempt, something he denies.

On July 29, President Recep Erdogan had told Gen. Joseph Votel to “know your place”, adding: “You are taking the side of coup plotters instead of thanking this state for defeating the coup attempt.”

Gen. Joseph Votel had said one day before: “We have certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders – military leaders in particular. I am concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue.”

The next day, replying after President Recep Erdogan’s comments, Gen. Joseph Votel said any reports that he was involved in the coup were “unfortunate and completely inaccurate”.

Gen. Joseph Votel added that Turkey had been an “extraordinary and vital partner” for many years and he was looking forward to their partnership in the fight against self-styled Islamic State.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had also said on July 28 that Turkey’s crackdown was disrupting Turkish-American military co-operation in fighting ISIS.

Turkey announced a military reshuffle on July 28, including the dishonorable discharge of 1,700 military servicemen. About 40% of generals and admirals have been discharged since the coup.

More than 66,000 Turkish public sector workers have been dismissed from their posts and 50,000 passports cancelled, while the labor ministry is investigating 1,300 of its staff.

Turkey has also shut 142 media outlets and detained several journalists.

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More than 130 media organizations have been close in Turkey, as a crackdown continues following the failed coup on July 15.

According to Turkish authorities, 3 news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 papers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers will be shut.

In March, Zaman, once one of Turkey’s biggest newspapers, was put under state control. Arrest warrants have been issued for 47 staff.

Many of the media outlets are linked to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen

The government says Fethullah Gulen was behind the army-led attempted coup, a claim he denies.Turkey media crackdown

Separately, the government announced on July 27 that nearly 1,700 members of the armed forces, including 149 generals and admirals had been discharged.

At least 246 people died during the coup, and more than 2,000 people were injured.

Both the closure of the media outlets and the soldiers’ dismissal were announced in Turkey’s official Resmi Gazete.

While most are relatively small provincial outlets, several with a national audience have also been targeted.

Zaman‘s readers were mostly Fethullah Gulen supporters, who stopped reading it after the state takeover in March, rendering it unprofitable.

In addition to the warrants issued for the 47 Zaman staff, authorities had sought the arrest of 42 other journalists earlier in the week.

Among those discharged from the armed forces are 87 army generals, 30 air force generals and 32 admirals.

The Turkish army also revealed that 8,651 members, or 1.5%, of the nation’s armed forces had taken part in the failed coup.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to purge state bodies of the “virus” he says caused the revolt.

Last week, Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency, allowing the president and the government to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

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Tens of thousands of Turks have joined a pro-democracy rally in Istanbul, condemning Turkey’s failed coup and defending the republic.

The rally was organized by the opposition party CHP (Republican People’s Party) but was backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party (Justice and Development Party), in a rare show of unity.

CHP’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said “democracy won!” but he also warned against the dangers of authoritarianism.

One banner read: “No to the coup, no to dictatorship”.

Many of the CHP supporters gathered in Taksim Square waved flags with a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Despite Turkey’s political divisions, Istanbul’s mayor and other AK party leaders joined the opposition demonstrators.

Posters at the rally proclaimed “No to coups”.

In his speech, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that amid the turmoil, “the parliament stood proudly, Turkey stood proudly, lawmakers stood proudly, people in this square have stood proudly, and democracy won!”

However, Kemal Kilicdaroglu also stressed the importance of a free press and freedom of assembly, as well as the dangers of dictatorship and authoritarianism.

The CHP leader said: “The state cannot be governed by grudge, anger and prejudice. Those responsible for the coup should be tried lawfully, with the understanding of abiding by the rule of law.”

In a rare move, pro-government TV channels broadcast the speech live.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown following the attempted coup, arresting thousands of service personnel and sacking or suspending thousands of judges, government officials, school teachers and university heads.

Human Rights group Amnesty International said it had received credible evidence of detainees being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since the coup attempt.

Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen in a statement: “It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

A state of emergency was declared on July 20, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also extended the period in which suspects can be detained without charge to 30 days.

Ankara’s chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak has been reported by Turkish media as saying that 1,200 soldiers detained in the wake of the coup have now been released.

Those released were said to be low-ranking soldiers. Thousands of other service personnel, including more than 100 generals and admirals, remain in detention.

On July 23, Turkey’s presidential guard regiment was disbanded after nearly 300 of its members were detained following the failed coup.

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Turkey’s presidential guard regiment will be dissolved after nearly 300 of its members were detained following last week’s attempted coup.

PM Binali Yildirim told A Haber TV channel that there was “no need” for the regiment.

Earlier, Turkey detained Muhammet Sait Gulen – a nephew of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who, it says, was behind the uprising.

Fethullah Gulen strongly denies the claim.

A key aide of Fethullah Gulen has also been arrested, a presidency official said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown following the attempted coup, arresting thousands of service personnel and sacking or suspending thousands of government officials, school teachers and university heads.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

A state of emergency was declared on July 21, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

PM Binali Yildirim told the A Haber TV channel: “There will no longer be a presidential guard, there is no purpose, there is no need.”

The presidential guard numbers up to 2,500 soldiers but at least 283 were detained after the uprising.

Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called on the US government to block Turkey’s attempts to extradite him.

Muhammet Sait Gulen was detained in the north-eastern city of Erzurum to be taken to the capital Ankara for questioning, the Anadolu news agency says.

A presidential official quoted by Reuters said Halis Hanci, described as Fethullah Gulen’s right-hand man, had been “captured”.

According to the official, Halis Hanci had apparently entered Turkey two days before the coup attempt.

On July 23, Recep Erdogan extended the period in which suspects can be detained without charge to 30 days.

A statement carried by state media also ordered the closure of more than 1,000 private schools and more than 1,200 associations.

Also on July 23, Ankara’s chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak was reported by Turkish media as saying that 1,200 soldiers detained in the wake of the coup had been released.

Those freed were said to be low-ranking soldiers. Thousands of other service personnel, including more than 100 generals and admirals, remain in detention.

Recep Erdogan’s tough measures have been criticized by human rights groups, as well as by France, Germany and senior EU officials.

He told France 24 television on July 23 the EU was “biased and prejudiced” against Turkey.

Amnesty International has said Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going “well beyond what might be considered a legitimate response to the coup attempt”.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months following the failed army coup in Turkey.

The state of emergency allows the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

Speaking at the presidential palace in Ankara, President Erdogan vowed that “all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed”.

Thousands of people have been arrested or sacked since the failed coup.

More than 600 schools have also been closed and thousands of state workers sacked in a crackdown by the president.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after announcing the state of emergency: “This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms.”

The government will be allowed to rule by decree, with the powers of regional governors increased.

A re-organization of the police, intelligence services and the command structure of the armed forces is also expected.

Critics of President Erdogan have accused him of consolidating power on a scale largely unprecedented since Turkey’s first democratic elections in 1946 and of using the emergency to acquire more power for the presidency.

They say the president normally would need to alter the constitution to create an executive presidency and win back some of the powers he relinquished when his tenure as prime minister ended in 2014.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised those who were killed fighting against the coup as “martyrs”. Some 246 people were killed resisting the attempted coup, according to the government.

He was speaking after holding meetings of Turkey’s national security council and the cabinet in the capital.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier responded to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech by urging the Turkish government to maintain both the rule of law and a sense of proportionality in its response to the coup attempt.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the coup attempt on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally whose followers run a worldwide network of schools.

He has called for Fethullah Gulen to be extradited to Turkey, but Secretary of State John Kerry said on July 20 that Turkey must provide hard evidence the cleric was behind the coup attempt for any extradition to take place.

Earlier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of further arrests and suspensions to come as Turkish authorities continued to pursue those they believed responsible for the thwarted putsch.

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Over 50,000 people have been detained, fired or suspended from their jobs by Turkey’s government in the wake of last week’s failed coup.

The purge of those deemed disloyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan widened on July 19 to include teachers, university deans and the media.

According to the government, they are allied to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies claims he directed the uprising.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Fethullah Gulen led a “terrorist organization”.

“We will dig them up by their roots,” the prime minister told parliament.

Turkey is pressing the US to extradite Fethullah Gulen and the issue was raised during a phone call between President Barack Obama and President Erdogan on July 19, the White House said.Turkey purge coup attempt

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said a decision on whether or not to extradite would be made under a treaty between the two countries.

A Turkish government spokesman suggested that the US should be able to extradite Fethullah Gulen “on grounds of suspicion” rather than requiring facts of the case against him.

“There is very strong suspicion for his [Fethullah Gulen’s] involvement in this coup attempt. So this is sufficient grounds,” said spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

For his part, the preacher says claims he was behind the coup attempt are “ridiculous”.

“I urge the US government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas,” Fethullah Gulen said in a statement.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to chair meetings of his national security council and cabinet in the capital, Ankara, on July 20, after returning to the city for the first time since the attempted coup.

The meeting will be Erdogan’s first chance since the coup attempt to sit and talk in person with all key members of the government and armed forces.

His task is to re-impose stability amid the turmoil and to reassure the country and Turkey’s allies abroad that he is not embarking on a witch-hunt against his many critics.

The Pentagon said that talks also took place on July 19 between Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his Turkish counterpart, regarding the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

The base is used by the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government crackdown widened on July 19 to include the education sector and government departments.

According to Turkish media,15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked; 1,577 university deans were ordered to resign; 8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed; 1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired; 257 people working in the prime minister’s office were sacked.

Turkish media regulation body also revoked the licenses of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Fethullah Gulen.

The news came on top of the arrests of more than 6,000 military personal and the sackings of nearly 9,000 police officers. About 3,000 judges have also been suspended.

The removal of thousands of officials has alarmed international observers, with the UN urging Turkey to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights.

A senior German official said on July 19 that “a deep split” had opened in Turkey, and he feared the divisions would cause unrest among Germany’s large Turkish community.

“The danger of an escalation in violence between Erdogan supporters and opponents has also risen in Germany,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has accused Turkey of carrying out “revenge” against its opponents and critics.

He also said a debate around restoring the death penalty was “deeply worrying”. The EU has warned such a move would end talks over Turkey joining the bloc.

According to official figures, last week’s coup attempt left 232 people dead and 1,541 wounded.

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Up to 8,000 police officers have been suspended in Turkey, reportedly on suspicion of having links to the failed coup attempt at the weekend, officials say.

Some 6,000 members of the judiciary and military, including generals, have been detained in connection with the coup.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to purge state bodies of the “virus” that caused the revolt.

The EU’s foreign policy chief says the rule of law in Turkey needs protection.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

The government claims cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the plot.

Fethullah Gulen lives in the US and strongly denies any involvement.

Turkish state media reported on July 18 that more than 100 generals and admirals had been detained in raids across the country.

Eight Turkish military officers who fled to Greece by helicopter are appearing in court in the Greek border city of Alexandropouli charged with entering the country illegally.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a crowd on July 17 that Turkey would consider reinstating the death penalty.

Capital punishment was abolished in 2004 as part of Turkey’s bid to join the EU. Nobody has been executed in the country since 1984.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, was speaking ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers and Secretary of State John Kerry in Brussels, at which the events in Turkey are likely to be high on the agenda.

Federica Mogherini said there would be no excuse for any steps that would take Turkey away from the rule of law and that the foreign ministers would be sending a “strong message” on that.

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Turkey’s PM Binali Yildirim has announced that some 2,839 soldiers, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested after an attempted coup that is now over.

At least 161 civilians have been killed and other 1,440 wounded during clashes.

Those held include two army generals, Turkish media say.

Explosions and firing were heard in key cities on Friday night, July 15, and thousands heeded a call by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rise up against the coup-plotters.

It is unclear who was behind the coup.Turkey coup attempt 2016

The authorities also said 104 suspected coup-plotters had also been killed.

Some 2,745 Turkish judges have also been dismissed in the wake of the coup, state media say.

They are reported to include a member of Turkey’s top court.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed a “parallel structure” – a reference to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful but reclusive US-based Muslim cleric whom he accuses of fomenting unrest.

Fethullah Gulen has rejected any suggestion of links to what happened, saying he condemned “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey”.

The Turkish government wants Fethullah Gulen’s extradition.

Events began on July 15 as tanks took up positions on two of the bridges over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, blocking traffic. Troops were seen on the streets and low-flying military jets were filmed over Ankara.

Shortly after, an army faction issued a statement that a “peace council” was running the country, and it had launched the coup “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms”.

President Recep Tyyip Erdogan, then in the south-west resort of Marmaris, made a TV address via his mobile phone, urging people to take to the streets to oppose the uprising.

After flying to Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price.”

During the violence, the Turkish parliament and presidential buildings in Ankara were attacked. Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police headquarters and tanks were said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport.

Broadcaster CNN Turk was temporarily taken off air after soldiers entered the building and tried to take it over. CNN Turk later tweeted a photo of soldiers being arrested by police.

There were reports of fierce clashes in Taksim Square in central Istanbul, and gunfire and explosions were heard near the square. One of the helicopters being flown by rebels was reportedly shot down by government troops in Ankara.

A group of Turkish army has announced it has taken control of the country, with bridges closed in Istanbul and aircraft flying low over Ankara.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim earlier denounced an “illegal action” by a military “group”, stressing it was not a coup. He said that the government remained in charge.

Traffic has been stopped from crossing both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul.

There are reports of gunshots in the capital Ankara.

Soldiers were inside buildings of the Turkish state broadcaster in Ankara.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police headquarter and tanks are said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport. All flights are canceled, reports say.

CNN Turk reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “safe” but did not elaborate.Turkey coup attempt July 2016

A statement from the military group read out on NTV television said: “The power in the country has been seized in its entirety.”

Who represents the group remains uncertain.

A Turkish presidential source told Reuters that the statement was not authorized by the military command.

PM Binali Yildirim told NTV by telephone: “We are working on the possibility of an attempt. We will not allow this attempt. “

“Those who are in this illegal act will pay the highest price,” he added, saying it would not be correct to describe the move as a “coup”.

The prime minister said: “There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command. Our people should know that we will not allow any activity that would harm democracy.”

There are reports Turkey’s top general has been taken hostage at the military headquarter.

Visiting Moscow, Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped for peace and “continuity” in Turkey.

At least 11 people have been killed after a car bomb targeted a police bus in central Istanbul, Turkish officials say.

The explosives were remotely detonated as the vehicle passed through the busy Vezneciler district at the morning rush hour, reports said.

Four civilians and seven police officers were among the dead, Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Sahin, said. Some 36 other people were injured, he added.

No group has said it carried out the attack.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Turkey violence has escalated recently as a result of tensions with Kurdish separatists and the conflict in neighboring Syria.

The explosion happened near the city’s historic Beyazit Square neighborhood, a major tourist attraction.

Pictures showed the wreckage of a bus destroyed and the facade of nearby buildings damaged. Armed police were also seen next to the site.

Reports said gunfire was heard in the area after the blast.

ISIS and Kurdish militants have both carried out bloody attacks in Turkey in recent months.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said terror groups are targeting civilians because they are losing their struggle against Turkish security forces.

Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against ISIS and allows coalition planes to use its air base at Incirlik for raids on Iraq and Syria.

A two-year-old ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdish militant PKK broke down last summer.

Turkish lawmakers have voted a controversial bill that will strip them of their immunity from prosecution.

However, pro-Kurdish lawmakers say this is essentially a move to expel opposition members from parliament.

The new law is seen as targeting the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as well as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Turkey has led an offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), accused of being a terror group.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the HDP of being the PKK’s political arm, and has called for pro-Kurdish MPs to face terrorism charges.

This vote could be a first step towards making that happen.

Calling the move “historic” as lawmakers voted, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a crowd in his hometown of Rize: “My people do not want to see guilty lawmakers in this parliament.”Turkey and Russia tensions

Critics also say the move aims to strengthen the ruling AK Party and consolidate support in the assembly for the executive presidential system Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to implement.

HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas said the move was a blow against the people’s will and could not be accepted as democratic.

Selahattin Demirtas said his party would challenge the decision at Turkey’s top court.

The bill was backed by 376 lawmakers in the 550-seat legislature, which means it will become law directly without being put to a referendum.

It now needs to be ratified by the president.

Some 138 lawmakers, the vast majority from the two opposition parties, could be at risk of prosecution.

Violent scuffles marred parliamentary debates this month, with frustrated lawmakers exchanging fisticuffs and kicks.

Today’s vote was not without incident as CHP lawmakers walked out in protest.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said she would raise concerns over the state of democracy in Turkey when she met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week.

Angela Merkel, who has led the push to conclude a refugee deal with Ankara, has been criticized by human rights groups for turning a blind eye to violations in Turkey in return for co-operation.

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Turkish prominent journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul have been jailed for revealing state secrets, in a case widely criticized by international observers.

Erdem Gul received five years and Can Dundar five years and 10 months.

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, editor and Ankara bureau chief of opposition daily Cumhuriyet, had reported that Turkey had tried to ship arms to rebels fighting the Syrian government.

Shortly before the verdict, a gunman attempted to kill Can Dundar.

The attacker fired several shots while Can Dundar was briefing reporters outside the courthouse. The journalist escaped unharmed and the gunman was arrested. A reporter was lightly injured in the leg.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Speaking after the verdict, Can Dundar said the sentence, and the assassination attempt, were “not given only to suppress and silence us” but to “intimidate the Turkish media and make us scared of writing”.

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul were acquitted of more serious charge of espionage, which could have carried with it a life sentence. But their very prosecution has proved controversial, drawing sharp criticism from human rights campaigners and fellow journalists.

The two journalists are expected to appeal against the verdicts.

John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director for Amnesty International, called the convictions a “travesty of justice”.

He said: “The decision, which punishes good journalism with five years’ imprisonment, shows how the law has buckled and broken under political pressure in Turkey.”

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul were charged in November with espionage after their reports in May 2015 alleging that Turkey’s intelligence services were sending weapons and ammunition to Islamist rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish security forces intercepted a convoy of trucks near the Syrian border in January 2014, and Cumhuriyet alleged these vehicles were linked to Turkey’s MIT intelligence organization.

Alongside the newspaper report was video footage showing police discovering crates of weapons hidden beneath boxes of medicine.

The Turkish government insisted that the trucks were not carrying weapons to the Islamist rebels as alleged, but bringing aid to Syria’s Turkmen minority, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the video footage was a state secret, and by publishing it Cumhuriyet newspaper had engaged in an act of espionage.

He said in a TV address: “Whoever wrote this story will pay a heavy price for this. I will not let him go unpunished.”

Referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Can Dundar said: “Today, we know that the reason for the threats we have been receiving for weeks and the bullets fired from that gun today are due to the fact that we have been shown as targets by the highest office in the state.”

Media freedom has plummeted in Turkey, which now ranks 151st of 180 countries in an index by the watchdog Reporters without Borders.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the European Union that his country will not change its anti-terror laws in return for visa-free travel.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We’ll go our way, you go yours.”

In response, the EU says Turkey needs to narrow its definition of terrorism to qualify for visa-free travel – which is part of a larger deal between the sides aimed at easing Europe’s migration crisis.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking a day after Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who largely negotiated the EU deal, said he was stepping down.

Ahmet Davutoglu had also reportedly opposed Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to give more power to the presidency. The president said the proposed constitutional changes were a national need, not a personal requirement.Recep Tayyip Erdogan song Germany

The wide-ranging EU-Turkey deal involves the return of refugees, mainly Syrians, from Greece to Turkey, along with increased aid and other measures.

One of these is to allow Turkish citizens visa-free travel for short stays in the EU’s Schengen area which comprises 22 EU and four non-EU members.

However, the EU wants Turkey to narrow its broad definition of terrorism to match tighter EU standards. It is one of five EU criteria Turkey still has to agree to in order to meet the visa-free requirements.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected this, saying in a TV speech on May 6: “Turkey, when it’s under attack from terrorist organizations from all sides, the European Union is telling us to change the anti-terror law in exchange for the visa deal.”

Referring to tents erected by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, near the EU parliament in Brussels, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “You [the EU] will let terrorists build tents and provide them with opportunities in the name of democracy.

“And then [you] will tell us ‘if you change this [anti-terrorism legislation], I will lift the visas’. Sorry, we’ll go our way, you go yours.”

In recent months, the Turkish government has used the terms “terrorist” or “terrorist supporter” to prosecute critics including journalists, suggesting they are supporting Kurdish militants or other armed organizations.

If Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not meet the EU requirements, the European Parliament and EU leaders will not vote on the visa waiver at the end of June.

Another part of the EU-Turkey deal had been to hold new talks on Turkish accession to the EU.

However, analysts say Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been less convinced of EU alignment than Ahmet Davutoglu, and he will certainly be a tougher negotiator.

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Turkish journalist Can Dundar, who is standing trial on charges of revealing state secrets, has been attacked by a gunman outside an Istanbul court.

The gunman fired at least three shots outside the court, eyewitnesses said.

Can Dundar escaped unharmed but a reporter was reportedly injured.

Police say they have arrested the suspected gunman.Can Dundar shot outside Istanbul court

Erdem Gul, a former colleague of Can Dundar who is also on trial, said the attacker shouted “traitor” as he fired.

Can Dundar, a former newspaper editor, was briefing reporters outside the courthouse when the incident occurred.

The journalist is standing trial alongside Erdem Gul over a series of reports in Cumhuriyet newspaper that alleged Turkish intelligence operatives were transporting weapons to Syria in early 2014.

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul face life in prison if convicted.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has faced international criticism over the decision to prosecute the two journalists.

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul are among a number of journalists and human rights activists who have been detained or prosecuted in Turkey in recent months.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu has announced he will resign at an extraordinary congress of his ruling AK Party later this month.

Ahmet Davutoglu is believed to have fallen from favor having disapproved of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to move Turkey to a presidential system of government.

However, in a speech, Ahmet Davutoglu pledged his loyalty to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he bore no anger to anyone.

His successor will be chosen when the congress meets on May 22.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Earlier on the day, presidential aide Cemil Ertem said there would be no snap elections following the appointment of a new leader.

Cemil Ertem also said Turkey and its economy would stabilize further “when a prime minister more closely aligned with President Erdogan takes office”.

Ahmet Davutoglu met Recep Tayyip Erdogan for nearly two hours on May 4 but differences were clearly not resolved.

The prime minister said he would continue as a party legislator and would not try to divide the AKP.

“I feel no reproach, anger or resentment against anyone,” Ahmet Davutoglu said.

“No-one heard, or will ever hear, a single word from my mouth, from my tongue or my mind against our president.”

After Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected president in 2014, he hand-picked Ahmet Davutoglu to succeed him as head of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party).

However, the prime minister’s unease with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to move to a presidential system, among other policies, has been evident in recent months.

In a sign of his weakening influence, Ahmet Davutoglu was stripped last week of the authority to appoint provincial AK Party officials.

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Turkey’s new constitution will feature the principle of secularism, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced.

Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey’s secular and democratic character was “not up for debate”.

The prime minister’s comments came a day after parliamentary speaker Ismail Kahraman – a key member of the ruling AK party (AKP) – called for secularism to be taken out of the constitution.

Ismail Kahraman, who is overseeing the draft charter, said Turkey was a Muslim country and should have a religious constitution.

Turkey is a NATO member and aspires to join the European Union, which has traditionally regarded the country as a model of secular democracy in the Islamic world.

However, critics of the government fear the modern state’s secular foundations are being eroded.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Opposition parties also fear the new constitution could concentrate too much power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wants an executive presidency to replace the current parliamentary system.

In a speech on April 27, Ahmet Davutoglu said: “Secularism will feature in the new constitution we draft as a principle that guarantees citizens’ freedom of religion and faith and that ensures the state is an equal distance from all faith group.”

Ismail Kahraman said on April 25: “We are a Muslim country… Secularism cannot feature in the new constitution.”

He later said his comments were “personal views”.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of Turkey’s main CHP opposition party, condemned Ismail Kahraman’s comments, tweeting: “The chaos that reigns in the Middle East is the product of ways of thinking that, like you, make religion an instrument of politics.”

The AKP, which has Islamist roots, has been pushing to replace the existing constitution, which dates back to a 1980 military coup and does not promote any religion.

Over the past two years, the Turkish government has lifted bans on women and girls wearing headscarves in schools and civil service. It also limited alcohol sales and made efforts to ban mixed dorms at state universities.

The government has pledged that European standards on human rights will form the basis of the new text.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP holds 317 of the 550 seats in parliament. To submit its draft constitution to a referendum, it would need 330 votes , so it will need to win over lawmakers from other parties.

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Top EU delegates and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are due to visit the Turkish-Syrian border to promote a controversial month-old refugee deal.

The visit comes amid questions over the legality of the EU-Turkey pact, which deports back to Turkey refugees who do not qualify for asylum in Greece.

However, human rights groups say Turkey is not a safe place to return people.

Turkish officials have warned the deal could collapse if demands for visa-free EU travel for its citizens are not met.

The agreement says Turkey must meet 72 conditions by May 4 to earn the visa waiver, but diplomats say only half of those points have been met so far.Angela Merkel on migrant crisis

Angela Merkel is expected to visit a refugee camp in the southern city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, where she will meet Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoglu.

The German chancellor will travel with the European Council President, Donald Tusk, and the EU Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans.

Angela Merkel has faced opposition in Germany for her migration policies and has defended the deal with Turkey despite opposition from some European partners.

Her trip comes as she faces additional pressure for agreeing to the prosecution of German comedian Jan Boehmermann accused of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Advocates of freedom of speech in both Turkey and Germany have called on Angela Merkel to send out a strong message on the issue during her visit.

The goal of the EU-Turkey deal is to deter refugees, mainly Syrians and Iraqis, from making the crossing between Turkey and Greece.

Under the agreement, refugees who have arrived illegally in Greece since March 20 are expected to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

For each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is due to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request.

The scheme has reduced sharply the number of arrivals, from more than 56,000 in February to around 7,800 over the past 30 days, according to the European Commission.

However, the International Organization of Migration said unofficial data for arrivals in Greece in recent days suggested the numbers were picking up again.

The promised relocation to EU countries seems to be slow as nations are reluctant to take in more refugees – 103 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to Europe, the commission said.

In March 2016, EU border agency Frontex requested 1,550 extra staff to help oversee the deal, but so far only 340 police officers and experts have been sent.

Rights organizations have attacked the scheme, with Amnesty International saying that Turkey has illegally returned Syrians to their country, a charge Ankara denies.

The EU has pledged up to $6.8 billion in aid to Turkey over the next four years.

Ankara, however, expects more, including visa liberalization, a point which faces opposition of some EU members.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month: “If the European Union does not take the steps it needs to take, if it does not fulfill its pledges, then Turkey won’t implement this agreement.”

Turkey already hosts some 2.7 million Syrian refugees, at a cost of over $10 billion, the government says.

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UK’s magazine The Spectator has offered a prize to the author of the most offensive poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is suing German comedian Jan Boehmermann over a satirical verse.

The magazine is offering £1,000 ($1,450), donated by a reader.

It comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted over a TV broadcast.Erdogan insult contest

Jan Boehmermann had recited a satirical poem on the TV channel ZDF which made inappropriate references to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The comedian is now under police protection and Angela Merkel’s government has approved a criminal inquiry, under a little-used law concerning insults against foreign heads of state.

Angela Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

Announcing the competition, commentator Douglas Murray wrote: “The fact such a trial could even be contemplated demonstrates that Germany is becoming little more than a satrapy [province] of Erdogan’s.”

“I’m a free-born British man… In honor of this fact I have spent the weekend writing rude limericks about Mr. Erdogan.

“And I would hereby like to invite all readers to join me in a grand Erdogan limerick competition.”

Since Recep Tayyip Erdogan became president of Turkey in 2014, almost 2,000 cases of insulting him have been opened.

Jan Boehmermann case has opened a debate about free speech in Germany.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXJtrCcuv6o