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The New Arab

Russia 'warned Erdogan about coup' moments before assassination attempt

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan evaded capture and death at the hands of rebels [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 21 July, 2016

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The Kremlin has been forced to officially deny allegations that Russian intelligence provided the Turkish president with information about a planned coup attempt against his government.
Russian intelligence warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that factions within the army were planning a coup - possibly saving the Turkish leader's life - Iranian state media has alleged.

Moscow reportedly received "highly sensitive army exchanges and encoded radio messages showing that the Turkish army was readying to stage a coup", Fars News Agency said, citing Arab sources.

An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source confirmed that intelligence services "received intel from its Russian counterpart that warned of an impending coup".

Russian help?

Russian spies has informed Ankara that several military helicopters were dispatched to Erdogan's hotel to "arrest or kill him".

The Turkish president was whisked away to safety from the seaside resort before his hotel room was attacked moments later.

Fars believed that Russia's spy base in Syria's Latakia province likely intercepted the information which possibly saved the president's life, although these facts are yet to be confirmed.

The Kremlin has denied the reports and issued a statement about the Iranian news agency reports.

"I don't have such information and I don't know the sources, to which the news agency Fars is referring to," Dmitry Peskov, the Russian presidential spokesperson told reporters.

On the day of the coup, rebel Turkish fighter jets tracked Erdogan's private plane before it suddenly "vanished" from their sights, Reuters alleged.

Two rebel F-16s reportedly picked up the president's plane on their radars as it flew south of Istanbul.

"At least two F-16s harassed Erdogan's plane while it was in the air and en route to Istanbul," a former military officer with knowledge of events told Reuters. "They locked their radars on his plane and on two other F-16s protecting him."

"Why they didn't fire is a mystery," he added. 

To evade the hostile jets, the president's pilots blended in with civilian traffic by switching their radio transponder to a Turkish Airlines civilian flight.

After shaking off the F-16s, Erdogan was able to land in Istanbul's Ataturk airport when government loyalists recaptured it from the rebels, the sources claim.

Foiled plot

Erdogan told al-Jazeera that it was his brother-in-law who informed him about the coup.

"It was my brother-in-law who gave me first the news. Initially my reaction was disbelief," he said. 

"I had a conversation with the head of the national intelligence agency, I was already with the minister of energy on site and we decided to take a number of steps."

He said that he and his family family were taken by helicopter to Dalaman and from there to Istanbul by plane.

Since Friday, thousands have been arrested in connection with the failed coup, including one soldier suspected of attacking Erdogan's hotel in the resort city of Marmaris.

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