ISTANBUL (RFE/RL) — Security operations were continuing across Turkey on July 16 following a failed military coup attempt overnight that left many dozens of people dead and more than 1,000 injured.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on July 16 confirmed that Turkish security forces loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government had imposed a lockdown on the Incirlik Air Base in the southeast of the country — a facility where about 1,500 U.S. soldiers also are based for operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Cavusoglu said the lockdown was imposed because some Turkish soldiers at Incirlik were involved in the attempted coup. He said some arrests had been made there.
Meanwhile, the state-run Anadolu Agency said the commander of Turkey’s Second Army, General Adem Huduti, was detained in connection with the attempted military takeover as a roundup of suspected coup plotters continued.
Huduti, the most senior officer to be apprehended so far, heads forces that protect Turkey’s borders with Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
Lieutenant General Erdal Ozturk, the commander of Turkey’s Third Army Corps, also was detained on July 16 and faces charges of treason.
Headquartered in Istanbul, Ozturk’s field corps is the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps from Turkey’s First Army.
CNN Turk reported that Alparslan Altan, a member of the country’s top court, also was detained on July 16 — the most senior judicial figure among scores of suspects detained.
Although the government said the situation in the country is “under control,” President Erdogan posted a message on the Twitter social-media site urging supporters to remain in the streets to prevent “a new flare-up” of coup activity.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirmed that Turkey has closed the airspace around Incirlik as part of its lockdown — forcing a temporary halt of air strikes launched from the facility against IS militants.
A U.S. consulate official in Turkey said pro-government security forces where denying movement on and off the Incirlik base on July 16 and had cut power to the facility as the roundup of suspected coup plotters continued.
The Pentagon said U.S. forces at Incirlik were not in danger and were using internally generated power to continue operations in the facility.
However, U.S. military command in Europe on July 16 ordered U.S. forces across Turkey to take maximum protective measures known as “Delta” force protection level – which is invoked when a terrorist attack is taking place or security threat appears imminent.
The U.S. military has about 2,200 troops and civilian contractors stationed in Turkey, including about 1,500 at Incirlik.
Earlier on July 16, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Haberturk television that 161 people were killed and 1,440 were injured during the unrest the previous night.
He did not appear to be including the 104 soldiers supporting the coup who were reported killed overnight, meaning the death total for the unrest would be at least 265.
Yildirim said 2,839 military personnel supporting the coup attempt had been arrested.
Yildirim said the coup attempt was a “black mark” on Turkish democracy.
Government officials also said that five generals and 29 colonels were removed from their posts for suspected involvement in the bid to overthrow the Erdogan’s government.
The acting military chief of staff, General Umit Dundar, said that 41 police officers were among the dead.
“The coup attempt has been foiled,” Dundar said at an Ankara news conference.
Dundar said that an unknown number of loyalist military officers are still being held by coup plotters in unknown locations.
Instead of binding the nation’s wounds, Erdogan only deepened them. History will not be kind. Indeed, Turks will come to regret that the coup did not succeed.