[UPDATE] Turkish gov’t names new top land, air and navy commanders

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Turkish Supreme Military Council (YAS) meeting, under the presidency of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (C), is held at Çankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey on August 02, 2017. Hakan Goktepe / Anadolu Agency

The Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), which convened at the Çankaya Palace on Wednesday, reshuffled land, naval and air force commanders and decided to designate Gen. Yaşar Güler as the next top commander after Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar’s retirement in 2019.

Wednesday’s YAŞ meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, appointed Güler as commander of the land forces, Adnan Özbal as naval forces commander and Hasan Küçükakyüz as air forces commander.

For the first time in the naval forces, a vice admiral, Özbal, was appointed as commander.

The YAŞ meeting held on Aug. 23, 2016, again chaired by Yıldırım, sent as many as 586 colonels into forced retirement, an enormous number that many viewed as a purge. Out of the 586 high-ranking officers who were forced to retire, 470 were from the land forces, 71 from the naval forces and 45 from the air forces.

The meeting was held in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that claimed the lives of 249 people and wounded a thousand others when a junta within TSK attempted to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Güler was taken with Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar on the night of a botched coup attempt in July 2016 to Akıncı Airbase, which according to the Turkish government, served as the headquarters for plotters, and the orders to bomb Parliament and overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were sent out from there.

Küçükakyüz was abducted from a wedding by the putschists on the night of the coup attempt.

The AKP government and President Erdoğan blame faith-based Gülen movement for the filed coup and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since July 15, 2016. The movement denies any involvement.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Arrestees include military members, journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics and governors.

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