Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that it is becoming a higher possibility that the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is behind the İstanbul airport attack that claimed 41 lives and injured around 250.
Speaking in a joint press conference with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Yıldırım said “Our opinion that Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is the perpetrator is becoming more substantial.” He noted that the investigation is still ongoing.
Yıldırım also stated that the terrorists who carried out the attack failed to go through the checkpoints at the airport, hence, turned back, pulled assault rifles from their suitcases and opened fire while entering the airport. The prime minister noted that the number of specially trained security forces will be increased at airports across Turkey.
Putin talks with Erdoğan on phone, extends condolences after Turkey’s apology
In response to a question during the press conference, Yıldırım said Russian leader Vladimir Putin spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the phone on Wednesday. Putin offered condolences to Erdoğan on the İstanbul bomb attack and condemned terrorism.
Yıldırım said relations in every field will soon improve between the two countries, including cooperation in battling against terrorism.
The Kremlin announced on Monday that Erdoğan apologized to Putin in a letter over Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian war plane in late 2015.
A Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish military aircraft near Turkey’s border with Syria on November 24, 2015. Following the incident, two contradicting official statements came from the two countries. According to Russian President Putin, the Su-24 was struck by air-to-air missiles fired by Turkish F-16s as it was flying over Syrian territory. However, the Turkish government claimed that the Russian plane violated Turkish airspace and it was engaged after being warned.
The pilot of the downed Russian plane was shot dead reportedly as he descended with parachute after surviving the crash. Russia imposed a number of sanctions on Turkey in response to the incident.
Following the incident, Alparslan Çelik, a Turkish ultra-nationalist, claimed that his group killed the Russian pilot. Çelik was reportedly fighting in the ranks of Turkmen groups in Syria.
In December 2015, Moscow demanded Çelik’s arrest and extradition to Russia. A Turkish court in the western province of Izmir ruled for arrest of Çelik in late March. The Turkish court dropped charges against Çelik on May 10.
Another criminal investigation was later launched against Çelik on charges of “possessing war weapon,” however, he was released pending trial along with six others on Monday with a travel ban to abroad.