Turkey working on new decree to hire air force pilots

Defense minister says the country is restructuring its security forces after the abortive July 15 coup

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Turkey’s government is working on a decree to meet demand for new air force pilots, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Friday, after a purge of thousands of military following last month’s failed coup.

Turkey, NATO’s second-largest armed forces and a partner in the fight against Islamic State, dismissed or arrested tens of thousands of soldiers, officials and bureaucrats since the coup bid, in which rogue troops commandeered jets, helicopters and tanks in an attempt to seize power.

Isik told Haberturk television that Turkey’s role in the US-led coalition against ISIS will continue without interruption following the coup. He said the decree for pilots would be published very soon.

The United States uses the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey to launch attacks against Islamic State militants. Western allies are concerned President Tayyip Erdogan’s purge of the military and government may impact Turkey’s stability.

Turkish officials have been angered by what they see as the West’s focus on the crackdown on alleged coup sympathizers and a perceived lack of sympathy over the violent coup in which 240 people were killed.

The defense minister also said the three Turkish military attaches – two from Greece and another from Bosnia – still at large following last month’s failed coup were now believed to be in Italy.

Turkish officials say two military attaches fled from Greece to Italy, and other diplomats are on the run after being recalled as part of the post-coup investigation. Two generals captured in Dubai and another in Kuwait have been sent back.

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