August 2, 2016 / 1:13 PM / 3 years ago

Turkish army overhaul needed to stop cleric's followers, Erdogan says

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends an interview with Reuters at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ANKARA (Reuters) - Followers of the U.S.-based cleric blamed for the abortive coup in Turkey last month will try to take over the military again if the armed forces are not restructured, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

In a speech in his palace in Ankara, Erdogan questioned what kind of strategic partnership Turkey had with the United States if Washington refused to extradite the cleric he blames for masterminding the coup. He said the West was supporting terrorism and standing by coups.

Turkey blames followers of Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in exile in the United States since 1999, for the coup bid, which saw a faction of the military commandeer tanks, planes and helicopters in an attempt to topple the government. The cleric denies the charge and has denounced the coup.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall

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