By Sibel Ugurlu and Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
Turkey has sent dozens of countries extradition files on over 450 suspected members of the terrorist group behind the 2016 defeated coup, said Turkey’s foreign minister on Wednesday.
"We continue to pursue a resolute fight with FETO both at home and abroad,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission, referring to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization or FETO.
“We are pursuing FETO terrorists wherever they are in the world. We will bring the FETO members to Turkish justice to hold them accountable."
He added: "We prepared files on 452 FETO-linked figures as part of investigations of senior members of the terror group's overseas presence. We sent files to 83 countries where these figures are living."
Cavusoglu said that with the cooperation of 21 countries, a total of 104 FETO members have been extradited to Turkey to date.
On Turkey's successful cross-border counter-terrorism operations, Cavusoglu said that over 260,000 refugees had returned to areas of Syria cleared of terrorists during Turkey’s operations.
Turkish troops -- backed by the FSA -- liberated large swathes of northwestern Syria from terrorist groups during Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016-2017, while Operation Olive Branch liberated Afrin, Syria from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists in early 2018.
Turkey has also succeeded in closing FETO-linked schools abroad, he said.
"FETO schools and language schools have been closed in 21 countries," said Cavusoglu, adding that Turkey's Maarif Foundation has assumed administration of the schools in 16 countries.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the security forces, judiciary, and schools.
FETO also has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.
Cavusoglu said Turkey is trying to minimize the effect of sanctions imposed on Iran.
"[For this] We are in close coordination notably with both the U.S. and EU, and even with Asian countries," he said.
The U.S. administration announced Friday, Nov. 2 that it would temporarily allow eight importers to continue trading oil with Iran.
Cavusoglu also hailed Turkey-Russia relations, saying: "There is a strong will and a close dialogue between our leaders. We can find a way out even in hard times."
He also spoke about Turkey’s cooperation with the Central Asian countries. "Our relations with Uzbekistan has revived with the new administration [in the country]. Our relations with Turkmenistan have also strengthened," he added.