Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, has announced that a total of 23,364 members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have been expelled from the service since July 15, 2016 over alleged links to the Gulen group.

Speaking at the 5th International July 15 Symposium at Marmara University campus in İstanbul, Akar said the purge will continue until the Turkish army “is fully cleared of all the FETO (Gulen) members,”

The Turkish government accuses the group of masterminding the failed coup in 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization.” The group denies any involvement.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.