Turkey Purges Military as Failed Coup Leaders’ Arrested, Remaining Forces Surrender

Turkish military chief rescued after being held during coup bid; over 2,839 arrested in connection to failed overthrow of government, with remaining renegade army forces set to surrender after 265 killed overnight.


Image of rebel soldiers surrendering to pro-regime Turkish outside gendarmerie HQ in Ankara. July 16, 2016.Courtesy

Turkish authorities have detained 2,839 military personnel across the country after a coup attempt overnight by a faction of the military, an official told Reuters, with Turkey’s state-run news agency reporting that soldiers have left Turkey’s military headquarters, surrendering to police.

Gen. Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said more than 260 people died in clashes: 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 161 people described as “coup plotters.” Over 1,440 were reportedly wounded.

Dundar said officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units were mainly involved in the attempt.

Armed Turkish soldiers waiting at entrance of TRT state television as they prepare to surrender to the police after a failed coup attempt, July 16. 2016.Reuters

The head of Turkey’s armed forces has been rescued after being held hostage during the attempted coup which used tanks and attack helicopters to try to seize power overnight, a senior Turkish official said. Hulusi Akar had been held by rebel soldiers during the attempted coup, Turkish broadcasters said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who returned to Istanbul, warned coup supporters that “they will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey,” according to a transcript of his remarks provided by his office. “Those who stain the military’s reputation must leave. The process has started today, and it will continue just as we fight other terrorist groups.”

Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported that though the main airports have opened, authorities have issued an alarm to border gates and airports upon being informed that prominent members of the Gulen Movement, including journalists, might flee the country following the overnight attempted military coup.

A Turkish soldier, arrested by civilians, is led to be handed to police officers, in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, early Saturday, July 16, 2016. Selcuk Samiloglu, AP

The report says authorities discovered the plans after lists were found detailing the commanders and their deputies to be put in charge during the period of martial law if the coup had succeeded.

An official said the pro-coup soldiers did not control any fighter jets and that the helicopters they were still using would be brought down swiftly. Attacks on parliament and the presidential palace had stopped, the official said.

An email from the Turkish military General Staff’s press office address said on Saturday the faction of officers behind an attempted military coup overnight was still determinedly fighting all those who try to oppose it.

Calling itself the Peace at Home Movement, the faction also called on people to stay indoors for their own safety.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is seen amid his supporters at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016. Huseyin Aldemir, Reuters

Meanwhile, Turkey appointed the head of its First Army, a group of divisions within its land forces, as acting chief of military staff on Saturday while the whereabouts of the head of the armed forces was unknown, a senior Turkish official told Reuters.

Umit Dundar was appointed after the head of the military could not be accounted for in the chaos of an attempted coup by rebels in the armed forces. Local media reports said earlier the chief of staff had been taken hostage.

Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan attacked a group of soldiers who had surrendered on an Istanbul bridge after taking part in an attempted coup overnight, before police intervened to rescue them, a Reuters witness said.

Erdogan had repeatedly urged his supporters to take to the streets to help put down the coup attempt, which he said had been carried out by a faction of the armed forces loyal to his arch foe, U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

People attack and try to stop a Turkish police armored vehicle, carrying Turkish soldiers that participated in the coup and surrendered, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Emrah Gurel, AP
Turkish Brigadier General Umit Dundar salutes during a handover of command of the Kabul Multinational Brigade in Kabul, Afghanistan July 20, 2005.Ahmad Masood, Reuters