Turkish tanks and artillery have bombarded Islamic State (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,
Turkish tanks and artillery have bombarded Islamic State (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 10 Germans and seriously wounding several other foreigners.
Turkey, a Nato member and part of the US-led coalition against the ISIS, would also carry out airstrikes against the radical Sunni militants if necessary and would not yield until they were flushed from its borders, Mr Davutoglu 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 the 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.”
Mr Davutoglu 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 Sunni radicals.
Cross-border strikes into Syria targeted an area around the rebel-held town of Marea, 20 km from the Turkish border and near the edge of a “safe zone” Turkey wants to establish in northern Syria to keep the ISIS at bay.
“Our ground strikes on these positions are continuing and if necessary our air force will come into play,” Mr Davutoglu told the conference.
French warplanes also bombed an ISIS communications hub near Mosul in northern Iraq overnight, defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday.
“Last (Wednesday) night we bombed a Daesh telecommunications centre, a propaganda centre, near Mosul,” Mr Le Drian said.
“We have struck seven times since Monday,” Mr Le Drian said of the French bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, seven people have been detainedin connection with the suicide bombing at the heart of Istanbul’s historic district that killed 10 German tourists, Turkish interior minister Efkan Ala said on Thursday.
“The number of those detained in connection with Istanbul attack have reached seven. The investigation is underway in the most comprehensive way,” Mr Ala told reporters in Ankara. Turkey was quick to identify the bomber, named by Turkish media as 28-year old Saudi-born Nabil Fadli, as the man who had given his fingerprints a week ago at an immigration centre.