Last night a faction within the Turkish military attempted a coup against the government of President Erdogan. The coup began with pro-coup soldiers deploying to key locations in Istanbul and Ankara, including the Bosporus Bridge, and setting up blockades. This was quickly following by the deployment of military jets which began performing low altitude sweeps over Istanbul and Ankara.
Soon, clashes were reported around key government buildings in Ankara, and tanks were seen taking control at Istanbul’s main airport. As more of the pieces began falling into place, soldiers taking part in the coup took over TRT – Turkish state TV – and forced the presenter to read a statement saying they were now in control of the country.
However, at this point, the tables began to turn, and forces loyal to the government began to fight back. Importantly, President Erdogan was able to get a message out to the public (via FaceTime) calling on them to take to the streets and protest against the coup. Thousands of people began resisting the pro-coup forces, lying in front of tanks and forcing soldiers back. At the same time, several prominent heads of the armed forces announced that they had no part in the coup, demonstrating that it did not have majority support from within the military.
As soldiers began to be pushed back, the pro-coup forces began a series of desperate attacks using tanks, helicopters and jets. Intense clashes in Ankara left more 100 dead on both sides, and attack helicopters were seen engaging in intense fire against ground targets. As well, jets began bombing locations in central Ankara including the national parliament. During the same period a group of soldiers took over CNN Turk’s HQ in Ankara, forcing it off air for several minutes, before themselves being overwhelmed by a combination of protesters, journalists and police. Meanwhile in Istanbul, pro-coup forces fired on protesters, killing several, and crushed vehicles and civilians with tanks.
With the protesters and police forcing back military units across both cities, many began to surrender. By this morning, Turkish media reported that more than 1000 pro-coup soldiers, including several high level commanders had surrendered. As well, a helicopter flew to Greece, where its 8 occupants claimed asylum.
While the coup appears to have failed in its primary aims, fighting continues to be ongoing in some areas. As well, new reports suggest military forces loyal to the coup have taken over at least one naval vessel.
Currently, the death toll stands at 265 people reported killed including, 161 civilians and police, and 104 coup supporters.
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