Turkish army praises public role in thwarting coup

ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish General Staff issued a statement Sunday praising the efforts of the public, who it said “played the biggest role” in thwarting Friday night’s attempted coup.

“Right after the coup attempt started, our obliged nation took to the streets after having heard of this attempt, in an effort to protect the true members of the Turkish Armed Forces and to prevent a blow to our democratic legal system, eventually giving these traitors the biggest and best lesson,” the statement said.

“Thus, the biggest role in thwarting this treacherous attempt belongs to our noble nation,” it added.

The General Staff also praised the efforts of the “heroes” of the Turkish Armed Forces and police forces, who it said gave a “prompt and resolute response” to the coup attempt of “terrorist traitors embedded within the Turkish army who belonged to an illegal organization.”

“The coup plotters, who are members of an illegal structure, have been neutralized as of now and will receive the heaviest punishment permitted by law,” it concluded.

The attempted takeover is said to have been organized by followers of U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the government through supporters within the Turkish state, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming the so-called “parallel state.”

Friday night saw military elements make a “vile” attempt to overthrow Turkey’s elected government, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Around 160 people were martyred in the ensuing violence.

Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested, and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including some senior officers, were killed in the attempt to overthrow the government.

Turkey accuses Gulen of being behind the coup and called for him to return to Turkey to face trial.

*Hale Turkes contributed to this story from Ankara.