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Military men replaced

Turkey replaces army, air force and navy leaders

Turkey is set to replace the leaders of its military forces for land, sea and air, local media say. The decision, to be approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes just over a year after a failed military coup.

The Supreme Military Council (YAS) on Wednesday decided to replace the heads of its three main armed services with other top members of the military, according to Turkish television channels.

The YAS held a four-hour meeting chaired by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday, with the decisions to be presented later in the day to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for approval.

On the way out - according to the CNN Turk channel and NTV network - are land army commander General Salih Zeki Colak, navy chief Admiral Bulent Bostanoglu and air force commander General Abidin Unal.

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All three are to be replaced with other top members of the military. The new army chief was said to be General Yasar Guler, currently head of the gendarmerie who was abducted for several hours during last year's coup effort.

Since Erdogan came to power, the influence of the once-powerful military - which has overthrown four civilian governments since 1960 - appears to have been waning.

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The council - which normally only meets only once a year - was meeting for the third time since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Since the failed putsch, the Turkish government increased the civilian component of the council, giving more places to government ministers than military figures. Previously, meetings were held at military headquarters, but they are now hosted by the prime minister.

Hundreds of officers were purged from the military. More than two-thirds of those serving as NATO officers were labeled as suspects linked to Erdogan's enemy, Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen,who lives in exile in the US. Many feared to return home amid the new atmosphere.

Germany and Norway granted asylumto purged officers stationed in their territory.

On Tuesday, court proceedings began against nearly 500 suspects, including another former head of the air force and pilots. The suspects are accused of running the coup bid from Akinci air base outside Ankara.

rc/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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