First Turkish woman gendarmerie commander among soldiers killed in helicopter crash

Turkey’s first woman gendarmerie commander, who was previously suspended from her post because of a conspiracy plotted by followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, was killed in a helicopter crash in the Şenoba area of the southeastern province of Şırnak late on May 31.

Lt. Col. Songül Yakut, 41, was among 13 soldiers killed when the AS 532 Cougar-type helicopter reportedly became tangled in a high-voltage power line shortly after taking off from the Şenoba Brigade Command late on May 31.

Yakut was suspended from her job in previous years when she was a major because of the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot case, which is widely believed to have been a conspiracy plotted by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the alleged mastermind of the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt.

She then started a legal struggle to return to her post and managed to do so after proving she was innocent, her relatives told Doğan News Agency.

A funeral ceremony was held for Yakut in Şırnak in an official ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Defense Minister Fikri Işık, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar on June 1 before her remains were sent to the Central Anatolian province of Malatya for burial.

News of Yakut’s death was given to her family in Malatya’s Akçadağ district by District Gov. Serdar Demirhan.

Her mother, Sebahat Yakut, fell ill and residents in the area rushed to the house to offer their condolences.

The lieutenant colonel reportedly talked to her mother one day before the accident. Her relatives said Yakut loved gardening and spent her holidays in Malatya.

Yakut’s family released a message regarding her death, saying they had advised her not to go to Şırnak after her appointment.

“I told her to leave after she was appointed. She didn’t listen to me. She was martyred in the crashed helicopter. My beautiful girl, we are devastated. However, we promise you to continue the struggle,” the message read.

Yakut graduated from Turkish Military Academy’s gendarmerie class in 1997 with the rank of lieutenant.

She was posted to Ankara’s Beypazarı district between 2005 and 2007 and was well-known for her struggles against domestic violence. She often visited women in villages and listened to their problems regarding the issue.

She became the head of the Gendarmerie General Command’s Struggle Against Domestic Violence and Children unit in 2012.

Because of her master’s degree and successful work, Yakut was promoted a year earlier than scheduled and became a captain.


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