ISTANBUL — Defiant Turkish civilians climbed on tanks and yanked soldiers from their vehicles as Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the masses to go to the streets to show people power.
Mobs of protesters were seen marching on the streets, chanting “shoulder to shoulder against the coup” as they stopped the military from advancing. One man was pictured lying on the road in front of a tank and several others tried to rip a soldier who poked out of the tank’s observation hatch.
There were others who celebrated the military intervention by gathering on the streets and waving Turkish flags. However, their numbers quickly dwindled after government forces went head on against the rebel soldiers who had later surrendered.
Some took out their belts and started hitting the rounded up soldiers.
While the government said the coup situation was “90 per cent under control” — although some military commanders were still being held hostage by the plotters — the nation is teetering in the brink of civil war.
Erdogan said yesterday: “Another uprising attempt in Turkey could be staged at any time. It is necessary for the people to stay in charge on the streets.”
He later sent a mass text message to Turkish mobile phones imploring Turks to “stand up” for democracy and peace.
The message, which came from “RT ERDOGAN” and was signed with his full name, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also called on people to take to the streets against a “narrow cadre”.
Erdogan became president in 2014 after securing a slim 52 per cent of the votes. His Islamist views, however, remain unpopular with many as he tries to turn Turkey away from secularism. There are those who believe the coup will help them rid the government which they see no other way of deposing.
“We are terrified of civil war,” a source in Izmir told Breitbart London.
“The Army is telling us to stay indoors but government officials are telling us to go out.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey has demanded the extradition of officers who went to Greece, NTV television reports.
Greece’s defence ministry says seven military personnel and one civilian have landed there in a Blackhawk military helicopter and asked for asylum. They were arrested for illegal entry.
In public statements, Erdogan and other members of the government also directed their ire at the Fethullah Gulen movement, anchored to the spiritual teachings of an aging cleric who lives in Pennsylvania, US.
The Gulenists, once Erdogan’s friends, now supposedly sought to undermine the government through their proxies in various institutions of the state.
Erdogan appeared to accuse the coup plotters of trying to kill him, and promised to purge the armed forces, which in the past have staged a number of successful coups.
“They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said.
“This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”
Flag carrier Turkish Airways resumed flights yesterday. Malaysia Airports, the operator of Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, Istanbul’s second airport, said it would continue to process flights in and out of Turkey. — Agencies