Turkey to continue operation in Syria

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister says his country will continue its military operation in Syria despite the ISIS attack on Istanbul.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus

Turkey will continue with its military operation in Syria despite the deadly attack on an Istanbul nightclub that was a "message" against the campaign, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.

"This was a message for our cross-border operations, above all the Euphrates Shield," he said, using the mission name of Turkey's campaign inside Syria.

"We will carry on our cross-border operations and Euphrates Shield and with determination," he stressed.

The attack on New Year’s Eve killed 39 people, including an Israeli Arab, and wounded dozens more.

Kurtulmus’s comments came hours after the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out "to take revenge on Turkey, who serves the cross" and was done "for the sake of Allah's religion."

Turkish troops entered northern Syria on August 24 in support of pro-Ankara Syrian rebels, with the aim of ousting ISIS jihadists as well as Kurdish militia from the border area.

After a lightning successful start to the operation recapturing towns from ISIS including Jarabulus, the Turkish military has taken dozens of casualties as it tries to capture Al Bab where ISIS has put up a stronger fight to remain in control.

After Al Bab, the military intends to head west to Manbij.

"In Jarabulus, Al Bab, Manbij or wherever it needs to go, we will continue these operations until these terror organizations no longer remain a threat to Turkey," Kurtulmus said during a televised press conference in Ankara.

He said the attack was also because of Turkey's attempts to create peace in the region, after Ankara teamed up with Moscow to agree a ceasefire for Syria.

"Our initiatives for new peace in the Middle East will be realized,” stressed Kurtulmus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed that his country will continue to fight terrorism and its backers "till the end".

"Turkey is firm on doing whatever it takes to protect its citizens' safety and peace in the region," the president said in a statement issued hours after the Istanbul shooting attack. "Turkey will stand together and not give passage to dirty games of terrorists."

AFP contributed to this report.