Turkey vowed on Monday to “completely cleanse” ISIS militants from its border region, after a suspected suicide bomber with links to the ultra-hardline group killed 54 people, including 22 children, at a wedding.
Saturday’s attack in the southeastern city of Gaziantep is the deadliest in Turkey this year. What is more is that the suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. All initial evidence pointed to ISIS.
A senior security official told Reuters the device used was the same type as those employed in the July 2015 suicide attack in the border town of Suruc and the October 2015 suicide bombing of a rally.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, at an Ankara news conference, said that ISIS should be completely cleansed from the country’s borders and that the government is ready to do what it takes for that.
Both of those attacks were blamed on ISIS. The group has targeted Kurdish gatherings in an apparent effort to further inflame ethnic tensions strained by a long Kurdish insurgency.
The Ankara bombing was the deadliest of its kind in Turkey, killing more than 100 people.
A senior rebel official said Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters were preparing to launch an attack to seize the Syrian town of Jarablus from ISIS on the border with Turkey, a move that would deny control to advancing Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The Free Syrian Army, were expected to launch the offensive from inside Turkey in the next few days. Reuters TV footage showed around 10 Turkish tanks deployed at a village around 4 km from the border gate immediately across from Jarablus. It was not clear how long the tanks had been there.
Prime Minister Binali Yilidirm has said Turkey would take a more active role in Syria in the next six months to prevent the country from being divided along ethnic lines.