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Turkey coup attempt: Prime minister calls night of violence a ‘dark stain for democracy’

What we know:

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned to Istanbul where he was met by large crowds at Ataturk Airport.
  • He declared that the “government brought to power by the people is in charge.”
  • While the government seems to be consolidating control in Istanbul, the situation remains more uncertain in the capital of Ankara, which appears to be the epicenter of the uprising.
  • At least 161 people have been killed and scores more injured in attacks related to the attempted coup.
  • Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim said 2,839 plotters had been detained.

How it began:

  • Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a Turkish television network shortly before 1 p.m. Pacific that reports that a coup had been attempted in his country were correct.
  • Military officials claimed they had seized control of the country shortly before 2 p.m.
  • In an interview with CNN Turk, Erdogan urged Turkish citizens to take to the streets.
  • By Friday night, Turkish television was broadcasting images of rebel soldiers surrendering.
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‘Power of the people’

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Brits in Turkey advised to avoid public places

(Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to underline support for Turkey’s “democratic elected government and institutions” in the wake of the overnight coup attempt.

The Foreign Office is advising Britons in Turkey to stay indoors, avoid public places, especially demonstrations, and remain vigilant.

British Airways said it was canceling all flights to and from Turkey on Saturday, but budget airline EasyJet said it planned to runs its scheduled flights, largely to Turkish resort towns. The airline says the schedule “will be kept under continuous review.”

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Turkish chopper lands in Greece

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Turkish militants stripped of their dignity

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Turkey’s president says coup plotters ‘will pay a heavy price’

Forces loyal to Turkey’s president quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left 161 dead Saturday. Authorities arrested thousands of people as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed those responsible “will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey.”

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Death toll in failed coup hits 161

(Ozan Kose / AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim said Saturday that 161 people were killed in the country’s overnight military coup attempt. More than 1,400 people were wounded in the chaos, he added, and more than 2,800 people have been detained.

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Spain, Qatar side with Turkish government

(Gokhan Tan / Getty Images)

Countries are lining up to condemn the overnight military coup attempt in Turkey.

Spain’s acting foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, told Spanish national television that his government completely supports the Turkish government headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We condemn all coups without reservation,” he said.

And the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which has close ties to Erdogan’s government, said it supports all legal measures that Turkey’s government takes to maintain security and stability.

The official Qatar News Agency reported Saturday that the ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has spoken with Erdogan by phone to express Qatar’s support.

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Syrian opposition hails Turks for halting coup

The exiled Syrian opposition has congratulated the Turkish people for halting an attempted military coup.

The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition said in a statement that Turkey has protected its democratic institutions “in the face of dark and desperate attempts that sought to take control of the popular will.”

It said the Turkish people value democracy and “will not let a group of putschists take it away in a desperate attempt to restore military rule.”

Turkey has been one of the main backers of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad and is hosting some 2.7 million Syrian refugees.

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200 unarmed soldiers leave Turkey’s military headquarters in Ankara and surrender to police

Turkey’s state-run news agency says some 200 unarmed soldiers have left Turkey’s military headquarters in the capital of Ankara and have surrendered to police.

It isn’t immediately clear whether those 200 are among 1,563 military personnel who reportedly have been detained across Turkey as the government cracks down on the attempted coup.

A senior Turkish official says most of those arrested are of lower ranks. The official was communicating with the media on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

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Military official rescued after being taken hostage; 16 coup plotters killed in clashes

(Associated Press)

Turkey’s state-run news agency says military Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar has been rescued in an operation launched at an air base in the outskirts of Ankara.

Anadolu Agency says the general is being taken to a safe location.

Broadcaster CNN-Turk says that Akar was taken hostage at military headquarters in Ankara and transported by helicopter to Akincilar Air Base.

CNN-Turk says Akar will now take over the command of the operation against the coup plotters.

Sixteen of those suspects have been killed in clashes at Turkey’s military police command in Ankara, according to Police Chief Celalettin Lekesiz.

In comments carried by the Anadolu Agency, Lekesiz said that clashes at the command were continuing but “are about to come to an end.”

Gen. Memduh Hakbilen, the chief of staff of Turkey’s command for the Aegean region, is among those arrested, according to the report.

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Resident describes scene as ‘massive, massive death’

(Emrah Gurel / Associated Press)

Diego Cupolo, an Italian American photographer living in Ankara, described the scene there as, “massive, massive death. Everybody is stressed. There’s a lot of broken glass and people are scared.”

He said jets have been circling the city and dropping bombs. Overnight, he said, “I heard people coming around with megaphones calling people into the streets: ‘Come support your country!’ It was an organized effort to support Erdogan.”

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Rebel soldiers reportedly surrender as death toll rises

(Associated Press)

At least 60 people, “mostly civilians,” were killed in attacks in Ankara, according to a government spokesman. The government said about 120 people have been arrested.

“They have pointed the people’s guns against the people,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Saturday morning, after a night of bomb blasts, gunfire and air battles between rival aircraft of the Turkish military rattled the capital.

Erdogan called on supporters to take to the streets to defend his rule, and by Saturday morning, Turkish television was broadcasting images of rebel soldiers surrendering. The state-run Anadolu news agency said 754 members of the armed forces have been arrested.

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Why Turkey is one of the United States’ most critically strategic allies

As the only majority-Muslim member of NATO, Turkey has lent its soil to U.S. air bases, supported American military operations in key conflicts — such as Syria today and the Balkans in the 1990s — and served, until recent years, as a rare friendly interlocutor between Muslim nations and Israel.

Turkey’s stability and the friendliness of its military toward the West are also of vital importance to the U.S. and for countries throughout Europe.

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Death toll in Ankara is more than 40

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CNN Turk back to full broadcasting after major Turkish news outlets were raided

Military soldiers raided two of Turkey’s major news organizations. CNN Turk and Hurriyet — one of the country’s leading daily newspapers — were overtaken by soldiers. The outlets share the same building.

CNN Turk has regained control if its broadcast. At the time of the raid, it was broadcasting its studio on Facebook Live. Viewers could hear soldiers in the background while watching an anchorless set. Some CNN Turk staff live-streamed the takeover from the studio.

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Some alleged coup plotters have been arrested or detained by civilians

Photos of military officers allegedly involved in the ongoing coup attempt in Turkey are circulating on social media, and the Turkish president’s office is claiming some 50 officers have been arrested, the Associated Press is reporting.

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Gunshots and prayers: An L.A. native describes scene in Istanbul

We can hear people praying, and it’s not prayer time. I’m hearing gunshots right now. Listen, it sounds like fireworks – pop, pop, pop. It’s literally right next to us. There’s been gunshots since this whole thing happened.

Kat Cohen, of Los Angeles, in a phone interview from Istanbul

Spencer Ostrander, Cohen’s boyfriend, shot the video above after the couple hurried back to their hotel from a late dinner in Istanbul where they are traveling.

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Turkish president is greeted by supporters at Istanbul’s airport

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was greeted by large crowds as he emerged from a vehicle at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier, a spokesman for Erdogan had denied reports indicating the president had fled Turkey.

Spokesman Dogan Eskinet said Erdogan was in a “secure location, as per government protocol” and claimed that the civilian government was gradually restoring control.

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Turkey’s president blames coup on cleric-in-exile Fethullah Gulen but Gulen Group denies involvement

(AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blaming the military’s ongoing coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Gulen’s nonprofit, the Alliance for Shared Values, denies any involvement and has condemned “any military intervention in domestic politics of Turkey.”

In a 2014 profile, The Times described Gulen’s faith and politics, which include a blend of Islamic piety and Sufi mysticism as well as support for free markets, democracy and religious tolerance.

Gulen’s followers formed a movement called Hizmet and have built an international network of schools, charities and companies. Erdogan has cracked down on Gulen’s network, firing some 2,000 officers believed to be loyal to the cleric and closing down his schools.

Meanwhile, Gulen and his supporters in the judiciary have in the past pushed for a corruption investigation into Erdogan, sparking a bitter political divide. Turkish authorities had also accused Gulen of forming an opposing “state within a state.”

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Military, now out of state-run media building, storms CNN Turk

CNN is still on air, but with an empty studio. Watch:

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More explosions reported at Turkey’s parliament building

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Tanks trying to take over Turkey overwhelmed by citizens

(AP)

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NATO calls for ‘calm and restraint’

More than three hours after reports of the coups surfaced, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement saying that Turkey was a “valued NATO ally.”

“I call for calm and restraint, and full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and its constitution,” he said, adding that he spoke with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

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Turkey’s coup is broadcasting live on Facebook and Periscope

Facebook Live broadcasting out of Turkey.
Facebook Live broadcasting out of Turkey.

When Turkish government-funded broadcaster TRT World went dark, Turkey’s coup was still widely broadcast on social media. Many residents throughout the country, and especially in the capital of Ankara, are live-streaming from the streets on Facebook Live and Periscope.

Citizens throughout the Middle East have been early adoptors of social media. 2011’s Arab Spring was one of the first major events in which Twitter was utilized for its live coverage. It’s also not the first time Turkey has used social media to document a social uprising. During 2013 anti-government demonstrations, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other outlets were used to document protests. Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Twitter a “menace.”

As of last year, Turkey was the second most active country to use Periscope, according to Buzzfeed.

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On the streets in Ankara, conflicting views of Turkey’s best course

The normally bustling streets of Kizilay, in Ankara’s downtown, were largely deserted late Friday. Groups of bearded men walked towards the Interior Ministry chanting “God is great.”

“The military has tried to overthrow the government,” said one demonstrator, who gave his name as Adnan. “The people are resisting.”

Gunfire rang out as two fighter jets ripped low through the sky, their afterburners setting up a deafening racket.

Engin Zengin, 40, used a slur to describe President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding: “He wanted to make Turkey like Iran, to make us all Islamic fundamentalists. He can’t come back from this.”

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State department cites ‘Turkish uprising’ and warns martial law and curfew are in place

U.S. Embassy Ankara informs U.S. citizens that shots fired and explosions have been heard in Ankara and both bridges in Istanbul, the Bosphorous and Fatih Sultan Mehmet, are now closed.  Martial law and a curfew have been imposed in Turkey.  All flights at Ataturk Istanbul Airport have been suspended.  

Emergency message for U.S. citizens

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What to do if you haven’t heard from a relative in Turkey

State Department officials are urging anyone who has not heard from a U.S. citizen currently traveling or living in Turkey to call 1-888-407-4747 in United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries, both toll-free.

You can also email TurkeyEmergencyUSC@state.gov

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President Obama: Support Turkey’s ‘democratically elected government’

During a phone call tonight with Secretary of State John Kerry, President Obama said that the democratically elected government of Turkey should be supported, according to a statement from the White House.

The president and Kerry also agreed that “all parties” should “show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed.”

The president’s remarks come just as 17 police officers were reported killed in a helicopter attack on their headquarters on the outskirts of the Turkish capital, Ankara.

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State Department to U.S. citizens in Turkey: Do not go to our consulates or embassy

Tanks on the main streets in Istanbul.
(Defne Karadeniz)

We encourage U.S. citizens to shelter in place and do not go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulates at this time.

U.S. officials have been warning Americans about possibly dangerous conditions in Turkey for months. In late June, the Department of State warned U.S. citizens of “increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey.”

That warning followed a “worldwide caution” about increased extremist activity in Europe issued in March that specifically cited the possibility of terrorists targeting large events.

Later that same month, family members of U.S. government personnel in Adana and Izmir province were ordered to leave until July 26.

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Helicopter attack kills 17 Turkish police officers just outside Ankara

More than a dozen Turkish police officers were killed when a helicopter opened fire on their headquarters on the outskirts of Ankara, the Associated Press is reporting.

Video of gunfire coming from a helicopter is circulating on social media.

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Map: Bridges, airport closures in Istanbul

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Tank fire reported near parliament building in Ankara

Tanks opened fire near the parliament building in the Turkish capital Ankara during an ongoing military coup, the Guardian has reported.

Gun shots were also heard on a bridge over the Bosphorus river in Istanbul, and news video captured people running for cover.

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Explosions in Ankara, reported attacks on police and satellite station

Loud explosions have been heard in Turkey’s capital Ankara and CNN-Turk reports an explosion occurred at the state-run television building.

Turkey’s state-run news agency report military helicopters have also attacked the headquarters of TURKSAT satellite station on the outskirts of Ankara and the Ankara Police headquarters.

Dozen of tanks were seen moving toward a palace that is now used by the prime minister and deputy prime ministers. A civilian car tried to stop one of the tanks, but it rammed through the vehicle as those in the car escaped.

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U.S. intelligence analysts have been worried about tensions in Turkey, official says

Friday’s coup attempt in Turkey took U.S. intelligence officials by surprise, a U.S. official said. But intelligence analysts have been concerned for months about simmering tensions between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish military brass as Erdogan has consolidated and expanded his power, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.

The Turkish military sees itself as a protector of moderate and secular institutions in Turkey, the official said, and Erdogan has recently been moving more aggressively to silence dissent inside the country, expand his control of the courts and clamp down on freedom of the press.

In March, the Turkish government raided the Istanbul offices of the largest-circulation opposition newspaper, Zaman. Columnists critical of the government have been fired in response to government pressure, and reporters have been imprisoned on terrorism charges.

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Nationalists shout ‘God is great’ on the streets of Turkey’s capital

Turkish soldiers secure the area, as supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim square.
(Emrah Gurel / Associated Press)

Hours after a military coup got underway in Turkey, hundreds of nationalists took the the streets of the capital city of Ankara. The impromptu marchers waved Turkish flags, and chanted “God is Great” as they walked toward the prime minister’s office along Atarurk Boulevard.

A substantial explosion, gunfire and fighter jets overhead could be heard from the street.

One marcher described the situation in Turkey’s capital city as a “mini war between TSK and the police.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, the AKP, has long been very unpopular with the officer classes of the Turkish military. Erdogan had worked to put allies in place in the military’s highest ranks to mitigate the likelihood of a coup.

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Turkish military says it has seized control to ‘reinstall the constitutional order’

Turkish military officials said they seized control of the country “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated.”

The military statement went on to say that “all international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue.”

Elected officials have acknowledged that a coup had been attempted but said they remained in power.

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Turkey’s leader reportedly says, ‘I am still the president’

In a statement given to CNN apparently via Facetime, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted he’s still the president.

According to the Associated Press, he has called on citizens to take to the streets in a show of support for the government.

It’s not clear where Erdogan is. The president’s office will say only that he is at a secure location.

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Tense scene in Istanbul’s Taksim Square

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Crowds head to ATMs in Turkey

Shortly after the attempted coup was reported, Twitter users posted photos of people crowded around ATMs.

The ability to move within the city has been restricted significantly, according to media reports, with some roads and public transportation shut down. Access to Twitter has been blocked for many people, which also happened after the attack last month at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport.

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Turkish military claims on state TV that it has seized power

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Obama’s national security team is keeping him updated on Turkey

President Obama’s national security team has apprised him of the unfolding situation in Turkey, officials said.

The president will continue to receive regular updates, they said.

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Video: Army tanks and low-flying jets seen in Turkey

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Broadcaster funded by Turkish government goes dark

TRT World, an international Istanbul-based broadcaster funded by Turkey’s government, has gone off air and the Internet for more than an hour, according to Turkish residents. Military officials were seen entering the broadcaster’s main office in Istanbul but there were no reports of arrests.

The organization’s most recent tweet came hours ago and did not pertain to the apparent coup attempt in Turkey.

-- Times staff writer

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Map: Turkey is strategically located between Europe and Asia

Turkey for a century was a Muslim but secular country and became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military alliance.

Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has positioned himself, thanks to geography, as a crucial ally. As the gateway to Europe from the Middle East, Turkey has taken in millions of refugees (mostly from Syria and Iraq), has agreed to prevent them from trying to enter Europe, and is not hesitant to use that as a trump card in negotiations with Western nations.

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Kerry on situation in Turkey: ‘I hope there will be stability’

We’ve heard reports that others have heard. I don’t have any details at this point in time. I hope there will be stability and peace and continuity within Turkey, but I have nothing to add on what has transpired at this moment.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry

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Who is Recep Tayyip Erdogan? A look at Turkey’s controversial leader

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, poses wearing traditional Turkmen clothes.
(Adem Altan / AFP/Getty Images)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s combative leader, ascended to the presidency in 2014 when his country held direct presidential elections for the first time.

He and his ruling party, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, rose to power in the years leading up to the election as economic growth and development in Turkey continued while the rest of the world suffered economic crisis.

Since the 2014 election, Erdogan has sought to entrench and expand his powers, and push Turkey into a more religious sphere, one in which political criticism is barely tolerated.

In March, his government raided the offices of the largest-circulation opposition newspaper. When the government insisted on secret trials for two journalists, the country’s Supreme Court said that couldn’t be done. Erdogan then announced he didn’t recognize the court’s authority. Even before he rose to his country’s highest position, Erdogan, who was prime minister, faced criticism for his authoritarian leadership style, as well as corruption allegations.

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State Department urges U.S. travelers in Turkey to ‘stay vigilant’ and use phone and text to contact loved ones

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Turkey has suffered through recent terrorist attacks

Here’s a look at terrorist attacks in Turkey this year:

Three suicide attackers armed with guns and bombs hit Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on June 28, killing more than 40 people and injuring more than 140 others in a coordinated assault. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkish officials said they believed it was the work of Islamic State.

In January, suicide bombers hit Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, close to some of the city’s main attractions, including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia Museum, as well as Istiklal Avenue, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare.

In addition, Turkish police have captured suspects identified as Islamic State operatives on the country’s western tourism trail and even in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, which has become a destination for travelers from the wealthy Persian Gulf states.

A homegrown Islamic State cell has also carried out suicide bombings in the southeastern city of Adiyaman over the last year.

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Video from Istanbul shows military on bridge, jets over the city