Turkey says plans anti-ISIS offensive in near future
Turkey has said it is planning to launch a military campaign soon against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group which is accused of carrying out the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
“We have plans to act militarily against them in the coming days,” Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu told a conference in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on Wednesday, describing the jihadists as a “clear and present threat”.
“You will see. We should all stand together against this danger,” he said, according to the Anatolia news agency, but did not elaborate further.
Turkish prosecutors say a sleeper cell acting on the orders of the ISIS group in Syria carried out the twin bombings last month on a peace rally in Ankara which killed 102 people and wounded 500.
They said the extremists had wanted to disrupt Sunday’s election, which swept the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) back to power.
Turkey’s NATO allies had long chastised Ankara for not taking a tougher line against ISIS as the extremists seized chunks of northern Iraq and Syria right up to the Turkish border.
But following months of Western pressure, Turkey became a full member of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in August and now allows American jets to use its Incirlik air base for raids, potentially making it a more likely target for jihadist attacks.
Turkey has also rounded up dozens of ISIS suspects in recent weeks in police raids across the country.
Sinirlioglu did not specify if Ankara’s action would target ISIS militants in Turkey or in Syria.
“The occupation of one third of Iraq, and also vast areas of Syria, by Daesh has undoubtedly created one of the most serious challenge,” he said, using another name for ISIS.
“It has threatened our security and, although the Daesh advance has been checked with the support of the international effort which we are a part of, the threat is far from over,” he added.
“On the contrary, Daesh continues to constitute a clear and present threat, aimed directly at our way of life, our security, prosperity and stability.”