Unsuccessful Coup in Turkey Leaves Over 260 Dead

“For the kingdom is Hashem’s; and He is the ruler over the nations.” Psalms 22:29 (The Israel Bible™)

The aftermath of a failed attempt to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left more than 260 dead and 1,440 wounded. 161 civilians and 104 suspected coup-plotters were killed.

2,745 Turkish judges were dismissed from their posts and 2,839 soldiers arrested, ranging from the lowest ranks to senior officers. Anadolu news agency said one of those detained was the commander general of the second army, one of Turkey’s most senior military officials.

Late Friday, the Turkish military announced they had taken control of the government in order to replace the president. A faction of the armed forces tried to seize power using attack helicopters to strafe the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and the parliament in the capital, Ankara. One of the helicopters being flown by rebels was reportedly shot down by government troops.

In Istanbul, tanks seized two major bridges, shutting down traffic in much of the city. There were reports of fierce clashes in Taksim Square in the center of the city.

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The state-run TRT channel stopped broadcasting briefly after rebel soldiers stormed its headquarters. Ankara’s airport was also seized by the military in the coup attempt. Flights to and from Ankara were cancelled. The airport is now under loyalist army control.

President Erdogan issued no statements in the early hours of the coup, leading to suspicions he had been taken prisoner. He was holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, but flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on television outside Ataturk Airport.

Erdogan said the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris.

“They bombed places I had departed from right after I was gone,” he said to the gathered media. “They probably thought we were still there.”

Later, Erdogan spoke out, condemning the attempted coup and placed blame on both an Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, living in a self-imposed exile in the United States, and a former air force commander Akin Ozturk, who was the Turkish Military attaché to Israel between 1996 and 1998, according to JNi Media. Ozturk, who commanded the Turkish Air Force between 2013 and 2015, is suspected of being the leader of the coup attempt, according to a Hurriyet report.

“You have engaged in enough treason against this nation,” Erdogan said in a statement. “If you dare, come back to your country.” The Turkish government has requested he be extradited but the US government has yet to respond.

Turkey is a NATO member with the second biggest military in the Western alliance, and is one of the most important allies of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey is a principal backer of opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war, and hosts 2 million Syrian refugees.