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Ankara Plays Down Military Resignations

Outgoing Turkish Chief of Staff General Isik Kosaner during a military ceremony in Ankara in August 2010
Turkey's government has sought to play down the mass resignation of top military commanders over tensions with the Islamic-rooted government.

The head of the Turkish armed forces, General Isik Kosaner, along with the heads of the ground, naval, and air forces, resigned on July 29.

The "Hurriyet" news website quoted Kosaner as saying he was quitting in protest over the jailing of military officers in a variety of court cases.

The office of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan responded with a statement that mentions the four commanders' retirements but makes no mention of the reasons.

The statement also names gendarmerie General Necdet Ozel as the new head of Turkish ground forces and deputy chief of the general staff.

It also said a key Supreme Military Council meeting to decide promotions would go ahead as planned on August 1.

Tensions between the military and Erdogan's government have been high in recent years.

Some 250 military personnel are currently in jail, most of them on charges of conspiracy against Erdogan's government.

In Brussels, a NATO spokeswoman declined to comment on the resignations.

Turkey's military is the second-largest in the 27-member NATO alliance, with about 1,800 troops serving in Afghanistan.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner called the resignations "an internal matter."

compiled from agency reports

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