National Defense Minister Fikri Işık said Thursday that the coup plotters planned to escape Turkey using three military cargo aircraft once they realized their July 15 bid to topple the country's elected government had failed.
He told the Anadolu Agency Editors' Desk: "They were going to escape from Akıncı Air Base using three CASA aircraft," Işık said. According to the minister, if the airfield at the base had not been hit on orders from Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, all the coup plotters would be abroad today.
He termed the night of July 15 as the most important night in Turkey's history of democracy. "That night, we confirmed once again that Turkish democracy had reached the level of maturity," he said.
Işık said there is a plan to relocate military units and place them outside cities following the July 15 coup attempt. "We will make the first such transfer on Monday," he said. Işık also said that they plan to move the National Defense Ministry to the Armored Forces Command in the Etimesgut district in Ankara. Işık added that the chief General Staff and services commands might be transferred to the Etimesgut Armored Forces Command out of necessity and a headquarters would be created.
He said they intend to use the War Colleges Command for the rectorship of the newly formed National Defense University in Istanbul. On July 31, under a statutory decree as part of the current three-month state of emergency, all of the country's war academies, military high schools and high schools that train non-commissioned officers will be replaced by a new university called the National Defense University under the Defense Ministry. "Our desire is to gather Turkey's Armed Forces and National Defense Ministry under a single roof," Işık said.
He also said 3,725 soldiers from Land, Naval and Air Forces, as well as the gendarmerie and Coast Guard had been dismissed so far. He added 137 soldiers, including nine generals and admirals, are currently on the run following the aborted coup. Işık said the Supreme Military Council will be gathered in August to discuss the military members on the run.