Defense chiefs have drawn up emergency plans to rescue thousands of families if the security situation worsens.

The SAS – together with members of the Special Forces Support Group – is primed to fly into key tourist areas if the country slips into civil war.

Members of the elite regiment will be fully armed. And they will be cleared to open fire if local troops threaten any rescue mission.

One senior defense source said: “Turkey is on the brink. If there is another coup attempt then civil war will follow. If that happens there will be a major international crisis.

 

“Every country with nationals living in or on holiday in Turkey will be attempting to rescue them and we intend to be ahead of the game.”

Hundreds of civilians have been killed since an attempt to overthrow the country’s president was launched a week ago.

And British diplomats fear that Turkey, which borders Iraq, Iran, and Syria, is now so unstable that further bloodshed is inevitable.

Hundreds of civilian jets, military transport aircraft, and helicopters will be used in any operation to help an estimated 50,000 Brits flee.Many would be able to leave using holiday airlines. But the British Government fears thousands could be trapped in the panic to escape.

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