By Necat Hazar and Ahmet Ozler
VAN / KARABUK,Turkey (AA) – Security forces arrested at least 23 suspects on Monday, including 18 active-duty soldiers, over alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, according to police sources.
In an operation based in Van, eastern Turkey, counter-terrorism police conducted raids nationwide, in the provinces of Afyonkarahisar, Trabzon, Mardin, Istanbul, Giresun, Amasya, Burdur, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Karabuk, Konya, Isparta, and Izmir to apprehend the active-duty soldiers, according to a statement by the provincial security directorate.
The operation remains ongoing to apprehend one more suspect, it added.
Meanwhile in another operation, five suspects were arrested for allegedly using ByLock, an encrypted smartphone app used by FETO members, said a security source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Counter-terrorism police carried out raids in the Karabuk-based operation in Istanbul, Kocaeli, Gaziantep, Aydin, and Yozgat, the source added.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.