Turkey arrests hundreds of suspected terrorists, Prime Minister says

Tayyip Erdogan: President of Turkey

Tayyip Erdogan: President of Turkey

(CNN)—Turkey arrested nearly 600 terror suspects as warplanes intensified attacks against ISIS and other militant targets in a daylong operation, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday.

The strikes also targeted the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), and came days after ISIS militants killed a Turkish soldier in border clashes.

The same week, a suicide blast killed more than 30 people in Suruc, a town that borders Syria. Turkish authorities blamed it on ISIS.

“We will not stay silent in the face of those who kill our police officers in their sleep,” Davutoglu said, referring to PKK’s assassination of two Turkish police officers Wednesday.

Turkey initially decided to attack ISIS during a national security meeting Thursday headed by Davutoglu.

“This is a big deal for the U.S. and the coalition, to get the Turks on their side,” retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rich Francona, a military analyst, told CNN. “This is a game-changer.”

Turkish warplanes and artillery bombed ISIS in northern Syria and PKK in northern Iraq on Friday, the first time Turkey has attacked ISIS and PKK simultaneously.

Turkey believes that PKK is exploiting ISIS efforts. PKK has been fighting for independence and autonomy since 1984 and is feared to be making gains.

The airstrikes, which coincided with Turkish ground troops, targeted PKK militants in shelters, depots and caves around mountainous areas near the Iraq border.

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