ANKARA (REUTERS) - Turkish land forces have fired nearly 500 times on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Syria and Iraq, killing almost 200 militants in response to a suicide bombing in Istanbul which killed 10 German tourists, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday (Jan 14).
Turkey will also carry out air strikes against the radical Sunni group if necessary and will maintain its "determined stance" until ISIS fighters leave its border areas, Davutoglu told a conference of Turkish ambassadors in Ankara.
The bomber blew himself up on Tuesday (Jan 12) among groups of tourists in the historic centre of Istanbul. Davutoglu said on Wednesday (Jan 13) he was a member of ISIS who had entered Turkey from Syria as a refugee.
"After the incident on Tuesday (Jan 12) close to 500 artillery and tank shells were fired on Daesh positions in Syria and Iraq,"Davutoglu said, using an Arabic name for ISIS. "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 the ambassadors' conference.
Turkey, a member of the Nato military alliance and the US-led coalition against ISIS, has repeatedly said it wants to flush ISIS from a zone in northern Syria just across its border.
Turkish war planes have not flown in Syrian air space since Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in late November, triggering a diplomatic row with Moscow, which is also conducting air strikes in Syria.