Government forces crushed a coup attempt, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday as he vowed retribution after a chaotic night of clashes between loyalists and rebels that left at least 200 people dead and may not be entirely over.
Local authorities in Turkey had denied access to Incirlik Air Base, according to a release from the U.S. State Department on Saturday.
A U.S. defense official told the Associated Press that the Turkish government had closed the airspace around Incirlik airbase for a few hours, but it has since reopened. U.S. aircraft that were on missions could return to the base but could not take off until the base reopened. The defense official, in Kabul, was not authorized to discuss the Incirlik situation by name.
A Pentagon statement released later, however, noted that the air space was still closed. As a "result, air operations at Incirlik Air Base have been halted at this time. U.S. officials are working with the Turks to resume air operations there as soon as possible," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a release. "In the meantime, U.S. Central Command is adjusting flight operations in the counter-ISIL campaign to minimize any effects on the campaign."
"We're making appropriate adjustments to ensure impact to air operations are minimized," Lt. Col. Chris Karns, spokesman for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told Military Times on Saturday.
"There is a common thread and a recognition between both the U.S. and Turkey that it's in both nations' interests to keep up the fight against terror groups like Daesh," Karns said in an email, using the Pentagon-preferred term for the Islamic State group.
"The situation will likely be fluid but flexibility has always been foundational to the way this war has been and will be fought. Getting after Daesh will continue to occur," he said. "The air war operates out of multiple locations. While Incirlik is certainly important, it is one of several locations where air operations are executed. Adjustments will be made and Daesh will still very much feel airpower's presence." The State Department releasealso advises Americans to avoid the base due to a power outage.
"The power there has also been cut. Please avoid the air base until normal operations have been restored," the statement said. The reason for the power interruption is not clear, according to AP.
"Incirlik Air Base did receive a disruption to their power supply and switched to backup generator power," Capt. Holly Hess, spokeswoman for U.S. Air Forces Europe, told Military Times Saturday.
"The generators are fully capable of supporting operations indefinitely as base personnel work with the host nation to facilitate repairs. Redundancy measures are built into place specifically for instances such as this," she said.
The reason for the power interruption, however, was not made clear, according to AP.
The Associated Press quoted a U.S. defense official who said that the Turkish government had closed the airspace around Incirlik airbase for a few hours, but it has since reopened. U.S. aircraft that were on missions could return to the base but could not take off until the base reopened. The U.S. has Air Force A-10 attack planes based there for close air support missions over Syria and Iraq. The defense official, in Kabul, was not authorized to discuss the Incirlik situation by name.
Also, electric power at Incirlik has been interrupted, according to AP. The reason is not clear.
"In Turkey the army is not governing the state and they cannot, and this should be known by all," Erdogan said, addressing crowds in Istanbul on Saturday morning. "The government is in control."
He said the coup's supporters — rogue elements in the military — would "pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey" and that "those who stain the military’s reputation must leave. The process has started today, and it will continue just as we fight other terrorist groups."
While Erdogan insisted the government was in control, the situation is still fluid and some fighting appeared to continue into Saturday. Gen. Umit Dundar, a newly appointed acting military chief, told the Associated Press that at least 194 people died in clashes; 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 104 people described as "coup plotters."
U.S. troops in Turkey haven't been affected, a spokeswoman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe said in a statement sent to Military Times.
"We are aware of media reports of the attempted coup in Turkey. Currently, this has no impact on Incirlik Air Base," the statement said.
Separately, the Pentagon released a similar statement. "We are monitoring the situation in Turkey closely and are taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of our service members, civilians, their families, and our facilities. As of this time, there has been no impact to Incirlik Air Base and counter-ISIL air operations from Incirlik continue."
NBC News reported later that the threat level at Incirlik has been raised to "delta."
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said 2,000 military personnel were detained across Turkey as the government cracked down on the coup.
In Istanbul, images on television and social media on Saturday morning showed soldiers with their hands up walking away from tanks on the city's Bosphorus Bridge.
The coup attempt began late Friday, with a statement from the military saying it had seized control "to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for law and order to be reinstated."
Political turmoil has engulfed Turkey for months. There has been a crackdown on dissidents and opposition media and renewed conflict in the mainly Kurdish areas of the southeast. Critics blame Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule for eroding democracy and secular laws. Meanwhile, Turkey, a NATO member and a key partner in U.S.-led efforts to defeat the Islamic State group, has seen a wave of terrorist attacks that have crippled one if its biggest industries: tourism.
The Turkish government has also indicated that it thinks a Muslim cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania may be partly behind the coup. Fethullah Gulen promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education and science.
Y. Alp Aslandogan of the New York-based Alliance for Shared Values, a group that promotes Gulen’s ideas, denied the claims.
Erdogan was vacationing in southwest Turkey when the coup began. He issued a defiant address to the nation in a FaceTime call from his mobile phone.
He called on his followers to rally in the city squares and to flood the streets to confront the coup plotters. "I've never seen anything more powerful than the people," he said.
In Washington, President Obama urged all parties in Turkey to support Erdogan's government. "The President instructed his team to continue to work with their Turkish counterparts to maintain the safety and well-being of diplomatic missions and personnel, U.S. servicemembers, and their dependents," according to a statement from the White House.
"While we have no indications as of yet that Americans were killed or injured in the violence, the President and his team lamented the loss of life and registered the vital need for all parties in Turkey to act within the rule of law and to avoid actions that would lead to further violence or instability," the statement said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement Saturday that democracy needed to be defended and condemned "any attempts to change the democratic order in Turkey by force."
Air Force Times reporter Oriana Pawlyk contributed to this article from Washington, D.C.