Turkey, July 15 coup bid

Trail of heroics that Turks left to save democracy

FETO attacked government institutions, pointed guns on nation to overthrow democratic government on July 15, 2016

Sena Güler   | 15.07.2019
Trail of heroics that Turks left to save democracy


It has been three years since the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) targeted the Turkish nation and democracy on July 15.

The main base of the defeated coup attempt on July 15, 2016, which martyred 251 people, was the capital Ankara.

Turkish people who took to the streets upon the call of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to protect democracy across Turkey, especially in Ankara and Istanbul, stood tall against tanks and guns, and parried the heinous coup attempt.

The attempt, with the use of over 8,000 military personnel, 35 aircraft -- including fighter jets --, three ships, 37 helicopters, 246 armored vehicles -- including 74 tanks -- and nearly 4,000 small arms, has been noted as a disgrace in the history of the Republic of Turkey.

Main base of defeated coup: Akinci Base

The Akinci Base, now Murted Airbase, was used as the control center by the coup plotters.

On July 15, 2016, then-Presidential Secretary General Fahri Kasirga and many commanders, including then-Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar were detained by the putschists.

The fighter jets flying low over the city bombed the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, presidential complex, police headquarters and Turksat -- the Turkish satellite operator.

Many tanks and armored vehicles were taken out of the military posts and driven on the streets of the city.

Turkish people showed a heroic stance during the attempt, and fought against the traitors until noon the next day.

Coup attempt launched earlier than planned

The coup attempt was originally planned for the late night. However, the putschists brought the plan forward with panic when they realized a mobilization at the military quarters as an officer warned that FETO-affiliated soldiers would attempt to detain the head of National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan.

The putschists decided to execute the plan at 8.30 p.m. local time (0530 GMT), while it was originally planned for 3 a.m. on July 16.

Then-Chief of General Staff Strategy Department Maj. Gen. Mehmet Disli entered the room of Hulusi Akar and disclosed the attempt: "Sir, the operation has begun. We’ll take everyone, the brigades and troops are on their way."

When Akar made it clear that he did not support the coup attempt, he was made to sit down on a chair and his mouth and nose were covered with a cloth, while his hands were also tied with plastic clamps.

Meanwhile, the jets flown by the coup plotter pilots started to fly over Ankara and putschists, who had sneaked into many military institutions and commanderships, started to take action.

First statement by then-PM Yildirim

While everyone was trying to understand what was going on within the military, then-Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was the first one to publicly announce that there had been an "insurrection by a faction within the military."

"Those who are involved in this unlawful act will pay the heaviest price," Yildirim said.

FETO-related soldiers bomb police officers

An F-16 jet used by the FETO members bombed the Security Directorate’s Department of Aviation in Golbasi district of Ankara and left seven martyrs and five others injured.

In the first minutes of July 16, the Security Directorate’s Department of Special Operations in the same district was also bombed in which 44 police officers were martyred and 36 were injured.

Putschists raided Turkey’s national broadcaster TRT’s building and forced an anchor to read a coup declaration on live broadcast at midnight.

Nation poured into squares

Speaking to the CNN Turk channel at 12.24 a.m. local time (0924GMT), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said: "This incident, unfortunately, is an act of insurrection by a minority within the Turkish Armed Forces. This is an act encouraged and used by the parallel structure [FETO] as its mastermind."

Erdogan received an overwhelming response to his call for taking a stand against the coup plotters, as people poured into the squares in large numbers to protect democracy.

People gathered around the key points, such as the Presidency of the General Staff, presidential complex, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s headquarters and the General Command of Gendarmerie.

They courageously stood against the pro-coup soldiers and succeeded to send some troops back to their quarters in Ankara’s Polatli district.

People in the Kazan district also surrounded the Akinci Base, during which eight people were martyred by FETO terrorists.

Omer Halisdemir, a national hero

On the night of the defeated coup attempt, Maj. Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, then-commander of the Special Forces Command, learnt about the coup preparations of FETO.

After learning that Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi, commander of the 1st Special Forces Brigade in southeastern Sirnak province, was assigned by the coup plotters to take over the Special Forces Command, Aksakalli lost no time to order his right-hand man Omer Halisdemir by phone to kill Terzi in order to abort their plan.

Knowing that this risky operation could cost him his life, Halisdemir took position at the front yard of the headquarters building.

Terzi accompanied by heavily armed officers arrived at the headquarters at around 2.16 a.m. local time (2316 GMT).

Halisdemir dashed from his hiding spot and shot dead the general. He was then martyred by Terzi’s aides.

General Assembly gathered

Members of the parliament from all political parties convened at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) at 1.39 a.m. local time (2239GMT) in order to protect democracy and the Assembly.

People who gathered in front of the General Staff building, prevented the advance of tanks and armored vehicles by climbing on them. People entered the building but they were targeted by the coup plotters.

Some 38 people were martyred around the area by the fire from guns and helicopters.

The TBMM was bombed by one of the F-16 flying over Ankara at 02.35 a.m. local time (2335GMT).

Meanwhile, FETO-affiliated soldiers, who tried to capture the TRT General Directorate building, were being arrested.

The broadcast of the channel returned to normalcy by 3 a.m local time (0000GMT).

FETO pilots dropped more bombs on Turksat and the TBMM that injured 32 people.

According to the evaluation after the coup attempt, the attacks caused damages of some 20 million Turkish liras (over $3.5 million) to the assembly.

Presidential complex targeted

At the dawn on July 16, the putschists targeted the presidential complex. Two bombs from a F-16 jet near the complex martyred 15 people and injured seven others.

When the low-altitude flights over Ankara continued the next morning, the aircrafts -- which were not involved in the coup attempt -- targeted various points at the base to prevent take-off of other aircrafts.

As the endurance of the putschists started to break due to the firm stance of the nation and police, Akar, who was being held at the Akinci Base got on a helicopter to go to the Cankaya Palace at 8.26 a.m. local time (0526GMT).

The Special Operations Forces took over the control of General Command of Gendarmerie. However, one person was martyred, another one was severely injured at the command.

When it became clear that the coup would not succeed, soldiers started to surrender to the police in morning hours.

Binali Yildirim came to the Cankaya Palace at 12.57 p.m. local time (0957GMT) and declared that the attempt was thwarted.

Bridges in Istanbul closed to traffic

Meanwhile in Istanbul, the coup plotters, who targeted strategic areas, firstly closed Bogazici (Bosporus) Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge to one-way traffic at 10 p.m. local time (1900GMT).

Social media posts started to inform about explosion and gun sounds that were heard in some cities, especially in Ankara and Istanbul.

Erdogan’s call was also followed by Istanbulites, as thousands of them took their place on the bridges.

FETO-affiliated soldiers opened fire on citizens who tried to cross the Bogazici Bridge. Thirty-four people were martyred there.

The coup plotters could not proceed against the nation’s resistance and they had to surrender through the next morning.

Three more people were also martyred on the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

Istanbul governorship and airports

Some 90 soldiers under the command of Staff Colonel Nizamettin Aydin entered the Governor Office in Istanbul at 10.30 p.m. local time (1930GMT).

However, as people started to gather in front of the governorship, the soldiers had to leave the building. The soldiers were detained by the police.

The pro-coup soldiers also attempted to capture Ataturk Airport, where they closed entries and exits by 10.15 p.m. local time (1915GMT). They took over the flight control tower and halted all flights.

They prevented the landing and take-off of the passenger planes by flying F-16 jets at low-altitude over the airport.

The soldiers opened fire on thousands of people, who filled the airport upon the call of Erdogan. A 17-year-old was martyred here and many others were injured.

The putschists had to leave the airport due to the resistance of the people.

Erdogan landed at the Ataturk Airport at 3.20 a.m. local time (0020GMT) and said: "There is no power over the nation. This is an act of uprising, betrayal, treason. They will pay a very heavy price for it."

1st investigation into coup bid

Top prosecutors in Bakirkoy district announced that an investigation against the plotters of the insurrection was launched at 12.34 a.m. local time (0934GMT) for the crime of "attempted coup".

First Army Commander Gen. Umit Dundar announced in a live broadcast that the attempt was not supported by the Turkish Armed Forces and they had been trying to "solve the problem" in Istanbul together with the governor.

The first target of the coup plotters in Istanbul was the Action Force Directorate in the Bayrampasa district. The area was raided by soldiers and called on the police to surrender.

People gathering in the area as of 12.30 a.m. local time (2130GMT) did not allow the soldiers to take over the building.

The ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Istanbul, the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul and Taksim Square were also among the targets of the terrorists.

Their attempts failed in front of the Turkish nation, who showed courage and firm stance against the coup plotters.

People also repulsed the soldiers in Uskudar, where Erdogan’s house is located.

Sabri Unal, who was passed over by tank twice, survived the incident with an injury on one arm.

Turkish soldier, media against coup

Soldiers against the coup bid were taken hostage by the putschists in various military quarters, including the commands of air and naval forces.

Media organs were also targeted by the terrorists.

Following Erdogan’s live broadcast over FaceTime mobile app, the putschists tried to silence the TV broadcasters.

Buildings of various local TV channels were occupied by the terrorists who wanted to halt transmission but failed to do so thanks to the resistance of press workers, as well as the nation who did not leave the buildings alone.

Victory of democracy

Binali Yildirim, then-prime minister, announced at 12.57 p.m. (0957GMT) on July 16 at Cankaya Palace that the heinous coup attempt was defeated.

The heroic resistance and firm stance of the Turkish nation across the country has been recorded in the pages of history as the "victory of democracy, the great epic of the nation."

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