ISTANBUL

Turkish security forces on Tuesday arrested 18 suspects over alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup of 2016, security officials said.

This came after prosecutors in Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 27 people suspected of being in contact with imams — senior members — of the terror group via pay phones, according to the confessions of others and information gathered by police monitoring efforts.

The suspects are accused of infiltrating an Istanbul-based military school from which they were later dismissed.

Counterterrorism police conducted simultaneous operations in six provinces arresting the 18 suspects, while efforts continue to arrest the nine fugitives.

Multiple organizational documents were also seized by police during the operations.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and 2,734 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.

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