Turkish ambassador to Canada calls for help fighting ISIS after Istanbul attack
Selçuk Ünal says Turkey needs more support in the ISIS-held town of al-Bab
The Turkish ambassador to Canada says the New Year's Day massacre at an Istanbul nightclub has only increased his country's resilience to fight the "international menace" that is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but they need more international help.
"It's a heinous crime that everybody should condemn," Selçuk Ünal told CBC Ottawa. "But it's only increasing our resilience to fight against Daesh, or ISIL, terrorism, not only all over the world but particularly in Syria."
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In the early hours of the new year a gunman killed a policeman and another man outside the Reina club in the early hours of 2017 before entering and firing an automatic rifle at an estimated 600 people partying inside.
Thirty-nine people were killed, including a woman from Milton, Ont.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a "soldier of the caliphate" had carried out the mass shooting in response to Turkish military operations against the militant group in northern Syria.
"Our resilience is only increasing. Yes, there have been some attacks in Turkey last year but we believe it's because of our stance against terrorism," Ünal said.
Refugee aid needed
That stance, argued Ünal, needs bolstering from their international allies, especially in al-Bab where Turkish forces have been focusing airstrikes.
"But unfortunately we feel alone in that because the international coalition didn't continue to support those bombing that we had been doing. As well as they've almost ceased their operations in Mosul and Raqqa so that all the Daesh militants over there felt a free hand to come to al-Bab to fight the Turkish soldiers," he said.
Ünal said his country also needs help from Canada handling the overwhelming number of refugees who've crossed into Turkey.
"We appreciate Canada's stance by accepting Syrians from Turkey, we believe this should continue," he said.
Ünal said Turkey's hundreds-of-metres-long border with Syria makes it an easy target for fighters outraged by Turkey's combat presence in their country.
"That's a tough neighbourhood...It's not easy to control every bit of that border even though we've been constructing a big wall and taking other preventative measures for infiltration," he said.