Gen Akar: Disposing of FETO made Turkish army stronger

The chief of the Turkish General Staff said Thursday that clearing the Turkish army of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members had made it stronger.

"The Turkish Armed Forces have become much more powerful after being cleared of FETO members," Gen. Hulusi Akar said speaking at the EFES 2018 Combined Joint Military Exercise in western Izmir.

Akar added that the success of the military exercise proves this point.

He also said Turkey would continue to be a guarantor of peace and security in the island of Cyprus, namely through its military, in line with international agreements.

Around 7,500 military personnel are on duty during the exercise. Some 945 are from ally and friendly nations: the U.S., Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the U.K., Bosnia and Herzegovina, Algeria, Georgia, Italy, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Hungary, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Romania, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

The exercise in Seferihisar district is being held from May 7 till 11.

The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 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.

Akar also said that local production of weapon systems and drones used in Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin played an important part in not hurting civilians.

"People of Afrin who had to flee their houses because of terror groups' cruelty and persecution for years, are returning to their homes as the area is being cleared of landmines and improvised explosives," Akar said.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 this year to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region.

On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated Afrin's town center, which had been a major hideout for YPG/PKK terrorists since 2012.

Source: Anadolu Agency