Ankara: Turkish ground forces heavily shelled Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Iraq and Syria following the suicide attack blamed on the extremist group that killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said today. “After the heinous attack in Istanbul, our armed forces hit in the last 48 hours some 500 positions of Daesh (IS) in Syria and Iraq with artillery and tank fire,” Davutoglu told Turkish ambassadors in Ankara.
He added that around 200 IS members had been killed in the assault. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the toll. “Every attack that targets Turkey’s guests will be punished,” he added.
Turkey has often been criticised by its Western allies for not doing enough to combat IS jihadists who took swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria. But Ankara last year stepped up its involvement in the US- led coalition against IS, hosting American war planes at its Incirlik air base for deadly raids against the jihadists and conducting some air strikes of its own.
There was no suggestion from Davutoglu that Turkey has carried out air strikes against IS in the last 48 hours and it appeared that all the fire had been from the ground.