ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - A new wave of purges hit the Turkish army on Friday, with a top public prosecutor in Istanbul issuing arrest warrants for 300 officers - 211 of them on active duty - on the grounds of maintaining ties with an anti-government faction.
Of them, 150 were arrested in the early hours of Friday as an operation that spanned 52 provinces went ahead against suspected members of the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement, a friend-turned-foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration.
The latest mass arrests came in the aftermath of Turkey's invasion of the Afrin canton of Syrian Kurdistan.
State media described the officers sought for as "crypto" Gulenists, a charge that could lead to their prosecution for crimes of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the elected government.
Among them were 14 colonels, 15 lieutenant colonels, 45 majors, 27 captains, 17 first lieutenants, and 22 military students.
Erdogan blames a failed 2016 coup attempt staged by a clique within the army on Gulen and his adherents, once dominant in the state structure and influential in the country's politics and media.
Gulen denies having any role in the bloody putsch that killed 250 civilians, while Ankara designates his group as a "terrorist organization" and demands his extradition from the US where he is self-exiled.
Since the attempted coup, over 150,000 state employees, including generals who accounted for 40 percent of the Turkish army's high-ranking commanders, judges, police officers, doctors, teachers, and leading academics have been dismissed from their jobs.
More than 130,000 others have been arrested according to figures provided by TurkeyPurge, a diaspora-based Turkish monitor.
Editing by Nadia Riva