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Istanbul attack won’t stop Turkey’s operation in Syria: Deputy PM

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has vowed that Ankara’s military operation inside Syria would continue despite a recent terror attack in Istanbul which killed 39 people.

"This was a message for our cross-border operations, above all the Euphrates Shield,” Kurtulmus said on Monday, referring to Turkey’s military operation in Syria, which Ankara says is aimed at rooting out the Daesh Takfiri group and pushing back Kurdish militants.

Turkey started its military campaign in Syria in late August. The Turkish army and militants loyal to it recaptured the city of Jarablus in the early weeks of the operation. They are currently busy fighting Daesh in the town of al-Bab.

Ankara has vowed that its next target would be the city of Manbij, which is under the control of Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkey’s military drive in Syria has been met with increasing criticism, both from the Damascus government and the West, which is at odds with Ankara over Kurdish forces in Syria.

Turkish special force police officers and ambulances are seen at the site of a terrorist attack in Istanbul on January 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Kurtulmus said the attack in Istanbul on December 31, 2016, which saw a gunman storming a popular nightclub hosting the New Year revelers, would not stop Turkey from its drive against “terrorists” in Syria.

"In Jarablus, 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, adding, "We will carry on our cross-border operations and Euphrates Shield and with determination."

The Turkish official said the Istanbul attack, which was claimed by Daesh, was a bid to spoil Ankara’s peace-making efforts in Syria, after Turkey recently managed to hammer out a deal with Russia on the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire in the Arab country.

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

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