Turkey Says Killed 200 ISIS Fighters in Response to İstanbul Bombing
Turkish tanks and artillery have bombarded ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq over the past 48 hours, killing almost 200 of its fighters in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Istanbul, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday.
An ISIS suicide bomber, who entered Turkey as a Syrian refugee, blew himself up among groups of tourists in the historic centre of Istanbul on Tuesday, killing ten Germans and seriously wounding several other foreigners.
Turkey, a NATO member and part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, would also carry out air strikes against the radicalmilitants if necessary and would not yield until they were flushed from its borders, Davutoğlu said.
“After the incident on Tuesday close to 500 artillery and tank shells were fired on Daesh positions in Syria and Iraq,” he told a conference of Turkish ambassadors in the capital Ankara, using an Arabic name for ISIS.
“Close to 200 Daesh members including so-called regional leaders were neutralised in the last 48 hours. After this, every threat directed at Turkey will be punished in kind.”
Davutoğlu said the Turkish strikes had targeted ISIS positions around Bashiqa in northern Iraq, where Ankara recently deployed a force protection unit to defend Turkish soldiers who are training an Iraqi militia in the fight against the ISIS.
Cross-border strikes into Syria targeted an area around the rebel-held town of Marea, 20 km (12 miles) from the Turkish border and near the edge of a “safe zone” Turkey wants to establish in northern Syria to keep ISIS at bay.
“Our ground strikes on these positions are continuing and if necessary our air force will come into play,” Davutoğlu told the conference.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala said earlier seven people had been detained in connection with the Istanbul bombing. Turkey has rounded up hundreds of suspected ISIS members in its efforts to crack down on the group’s domestic networks.