Turkey’s top army chief takes medical leave after minor operation

Friday 08/05/2015
To be temporarily replaced

ANKARA - Turkey's top military commander has taken a 15-day medical leave after a minor operation, local media reported on Sunday.

Army chief of staff Necdet Ozel will be temporarily replaced by Turkish land force commander Hulusi Akar, according to the Hurriyet newspaper, citing military sources.

Ozel's leave comes amid speculation that Turkey may launch a military operation against neighbouring Syria, a claim which was firmly rejected by the prime minister.

A senior politician from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) claimed this week that the government was mulling a military operation inside Syria as an election tactic to boost the ruling party's standing ahead of June 7 parliamentary elections.

"Turkey will launch a military operation into Syria tonight or Friday," CHP secretary-general Gursel Tekin said on Thursday, adding that he received the tip-off from a "very reliable source."

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ridiculed the allegations as "lies" and "empty words."

"No, there is no situation right now that requires Turkey's involvement," Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Saturday.

Davutoglu's office said the premier had called Ozel late Saturday to wish the army chief a quick recovery.