Erdogan's Plane Met With 'Trouble in Air' During Coup

Why rebel jets didn't fire is 'mystery': former military official
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2016 7:49 AM CDT
Erdogan's Plane Had 'Trouble in Air' During Coup
The plane with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aboard arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on March 29, 2016.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

An attempted military coup in Turkey over the weekend that killed hundreds was put down, but more details continue to trickle out—and this one has some scratching their heads. As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jetted back to Istanbul from his vacation in Marmaris during the uprising, rebel fighter jets apparently had his airplane right on their radar, an ex-military officer with "knowledge of the events" tells Reuters. "At least two F-16s harassed Erdogan's plane while it was in the air," he says. "They locked their radars on his plane and on two other F-16s protecting him. Why they didn't fire is a mystery." At least two senior Turkish officials acknowledged there had been an incident involving Erdogan's aircraft, with one simply noting the plane had been "in trouble in the air."

Flight tracker data shows a Gulfstream IV plane like the one owned by the country's government had taken off from an airport near Marmaris late Friday night and then circled outside of Istanbul, where sounds of gunfire could still be heard, before eventually touching down. One of the officials also says Erdogan had "evaded death by minutes" in the resort town of Marmaris, with local media saying about 25 coup troops had descended from choppers on ropes and infiltrated a hotel to try to abduct him (he had already fled). Haaretz notes Erdogan's vacation home was bombed after he had left, per reports. One of the officials also noted Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was a target during the coup but just barely got away in Istanbul. The Wall Street Journal documents Erdogan's tech savvy during the coup, including how he sent a text message during the turmoil to every cellphone in the country and used FaceTime to speak to Turkish citizens. (More Turkey stories.)

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