US general seeks to soothe Turkey ties strained by coup purge

August 2, 2016 02:25

America's highest-ranking military officer sought on Monday to soothe strained ties with NATO ally Turkey, which was angered by the West's response to a failed military coup and an apparent US reluctance to hand over the cleric it says was responsible.

The fallout from the abortive coup on July 15, in which more than 230 people died as mutinous soldiers commandeered fighter jets, helicopters and tanks, has deepened a rift between Ankara and its Western allies.

President Tayyip Erdogan and many Turks have been frustrated by US and European criticism of a government crackdown in the aftermath of the attempted putsch in a country vital to the US-led fight against Islamic State and to stopping illegal migration to Europe.

They have accused Western leaders of being more concerned about the rights of the plotters than the gravity of the threat to a NATO member.

More than 60,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation since the coup, prompting fears that Erdogan is cracking down on all dissent.

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