Turkish ground forces have heavily shelled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in response to a suicide attack blamed on the group that killed at least 12 people in Istanbul, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said.
Davutoglu said on Thursday the Turkish army fired some 500 times on ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria over the last two days, killing nearly 200 ISIL fighters. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the toll.
“After the incident on Tuesday close to 500 artillery and tank shells were fired on Daesh positions in Syria and Iraq,” Davutoglu said, using an Arabic name for ISIL.
“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,” he told an ambassadors’ conference in Ankara.
Davutoglu also said that Turkey will carry out air strikes against ISIL if necessary.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up among groups of tourists in the historic centre of Istanbul, killing at least 12 people, including 10 Germans.
Davutoglu said on Wednesday that the attacker was an ISIL member who had entered Turkey from Syria as a refugee.
ISIL has not claimed responsibility for the attack.