Obama points finger at ISIS after Istanbul attacks

People carry the coffin of suicide attack victim Mohammad Eymen Demirci on June 29, 2016 in Istanbul.
People carry the coffin of suicide attack victim Mohammad Eymen Demirci on June 29, 2016 in Istanbul.PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - President Barack Obama joined Turkey on Wednesday in pointing the finger at the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group after the latest attack to rock the US ally left 41 dead at Istanbul airport.

Obama telephoned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer US security assistance in the wake of the assault, which was set to feature prominently at a three-way US-Mexican-Canadian summit taking place in Ottawa.

"Let me just publicly extend my deepest condolences to the people of Turkey for the terrible attack that took place in Istanbul," Obama told reporters in the Canadian capital. "We stand with the people of Turkey."

 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the newest atrocity but Ankara has said the evidence points to ISIS, and Obama appeared to second that stance.

"It's an indication of how little these vicious organisations have to offer beyond killing innocents," Obama said in a seeming reference to ISIS.

"They're continually losing ground, unable to govern those areas that they have taken over. They're going to be defeated in Syria, they're going to be defeated in Iraq.

"We will not rest until we have dismantled these networks of hate that have had an impact on the entire civilised world."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said earlier that Obama had offered Erdogan "any support that the Turks can benefit from as they conduct this investigation and take steps to further strengthen the security situation in their country."

"Any information that we obtain that could be useful to the Turkish investigation, we will certainly share that information," he added.

Earnest did not indicate whether Turkey had officially sought US assistance following the latest attack.

The assault, which comes at the start of Turkey's crucial tourist season, was the latest in a wave of attacks in Istanbul and the capital Ankara blamed either on ISIS militants or Kurdish rebels.

Earnest said Obama would have a chance to meet with Erdogan "in some setting" when he travels to Warsaw for the upcoming Nato summit on July 8-9.

The attacks loomed large as Obama joined Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for the so-called "Three Amigos" summit in Ottawa.

"This is something that will certainly be on the minds of all three North American leaders," Earnest said.