Russian Intelligence Ship Sinks After Collision With Merchant Freighter In Black Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

April 27 at 11:18 AM
A Russian naval intelligence ship sank Thursday after colliding with a merchant freighter in foggy conditions on the Black Sea near Istanbul, the Turkish coast guard said. All 78 crew members on the Russian vessel were rescued.The crew of the freighter Youzarsif H, a Togo-flagged ship traveling from Romania to Jordan and carrying 8,800 sheep, was unharmed and the ship suffered slight damage to its bow, according to local media reports.

In Moscow, Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a statement confirming that the vessel, the Liman, went down after the collision tore a hole in the hull below the waterline.

Russian officials did not immediately provide any information about the Liman’s mission. The Russian state-run Sputnik news agency reported in 2016 that the Liman had been deployed in the Black Sea to monitor the joint Sea Breeze naval exercises between Ukraine and several NATO countries, including the United States. Russian officials had complained that the joint exercises were provocative.

Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to express “sadness,” Turkey’s semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported.

Russia and Turkey have developed increasingly warm ties over the last year, putting aside bitter differences over the war in Syria to cooperate on brokering a political solution to the conflict. The relationship reached a low point in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that Ankara said had strayed over the Syrian border.

The collision occurred about 20 miles northwest of the Bosporus Strait, one of the world’s busiest waterways connecting the Black Sea to the shipping lanes leading to the Mediterranean.

At the time of the accident, the Bosporus was closed because of poor visibility, the Reuters news agency reported, citing the shipping agency GAC.

The Liman had also previously been deployed for three months to the coast of Syria in the Mediterranean Sea, where Russia is in the second year of an intervention to back President Bashar al-Assad against a wide array of rebel groups, including Islamist fighters and others with U.S. backing.

Ship spotters in the Bosporus photographed the ship traversing the strait near Istanbul under heavy snow in January.

It is not clear whether the ship was headed toward Syria on Thursday.

The Liman was built as a hydrographic survey vessel in the Gdansk shipyards in Poland in 1970 and later converted for military service in 1989, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. The ship is outfitted to capture signals intelligence, largely communications, using an array of Soviet and Russian-made sensors that have been retrofitted onto the ship.

Roth reported from Moscow

In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences

 

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences ― such as the repeal of environmental regulations or crackdowns on press freedom. But as much as they reveal how markedly divided societies are at this historical moment, they settle little. For those who are nostalgic for an ideal past, the challenges of a complex future wrought by globalization, digital disruption and increasing cultural diversity remain unresolved. For those looking ahead, there is no going back. The present political reaction is only the first act, not the last. It is the beginning, not the end, of the story of societies in fluid transition.

The recent Turkish referendum, like Brexit and U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, fits a pattern of a territorial divide. Residents in large cities and coastal zones linked to global integration and cosmopolitan culture represented just under half of the vote; rural, small-town and Rust Belt regions linked more to the traditions and economic structures of the past were just over half. But there is also a major difference. The populist, nationalist narrative that won the day in Great Britain and the United States championed the “left behind” and splintered the unresponsive mainstream political parties. In Turkey, the day was won by a conservative, pious and upwardly mobile constituency already empowered by some 15 years of rule by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. The cultural duel there, backed up by neo-Islamist and nationalist statism, will thus be more intense than elsewhere.

In an interview following the historic vote in her country, novelist Elif Shafak says, “The referendum has not solved anything. If anything, it deepened the existing cultural and ideological divisions.” She also laments the decline of Turkey’s long experiment as a majority-Muslim country attempting to balance culture, secularism and Western democracy. “This is the most significant turning point in Turkey’s modern political history,” she declares. “It is a shift backwards; the end of parliamentary democracy. It is also a dangerous discontinuation of decades of Westernization, secularism and modernization; the discontinuation of Atatürk’s modern Turkey.”

Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan explains the details of the constitutional referendum, how the playing field was tilted in Erdoğan’s favor and how it will have massive implications for Turkey’s future. He also emphasizes the historic importance of Turkey’s reverse. Özkan cites the political theorist Samuel Huntington who, in an essay decades ago on transitions from authoritarian rule, once defined Turkey as a clear example of a one-party system becoming more open and competitive under the constitution put in place by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It is rare in history to move in the other direction, as Erdoğan has now accomplished.

Also writing from Istanbul, Alev Scott believes Turkey is in for “a decade of paranoia under a modern-day Sultan” who was unnerved by the slim margin of his victory. Noting a widely circulated photograph of the president at his moment of triumph, she saw a man not “celebrating victory” but “a man alarmed by near-defeat.”

Even as critics within Turkey and others abroad expressed concern over the extinguishing of democracy, Trump again showed his affinity for strongman politics by calling to congratulate Erdoğan on his victory. Yet, as with other countries from India to Argentina, there is likely another element as well to this potentially budding bromance. Sam Stein and Igor Bobic report on ethical issues raised by Trump’s business ties with Turkey. In 2012, Erdoğan joined Trump and his family to mark the opening of Trump Towers Istanbul.

Turk President Er- Dog’ The Dictator Dares To Threaten EU Countries About Democratic Values?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

By Ercan Gurses and Humeyra Pamuk | ANKARA/ISTANBUL

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned the Netherlands that he could take further steps in a deepening diplomatic row, while a government spokesman in Ankara said economic sanctions could be coming.

Incensed by Dutch and German government bans on his ministers from speaking to rallies of overseas Turks, Erdogan also accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of siding with the Netherlands in the fight between the NATO allies.

Turkey suspended high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands on Monday, banning the Dutch ambassador from the country and preventing diplomatic flights from landing in Turkey or using its airspace.

Those steps were taken after Erdogan branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” at the weekend for muzzling his ministers.

“The cabinet took action yesterday but there are many other things that could be done against the Netherlands,” Erdogan said in a speech broadcast live on television.

“We will show those who think they can get away with an apology that they are making a mistake,” said Erdogan, who is campaigning for an April 16 referendum on boosting his powers and has been looking to the large number of Turks living in Europe to help secure victory.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus later told broadcaster CNN Turk that economic sanctions could be in the works.

“Pressure will continue against the Netherlands until they make up for what they did. We’ve started with the political, diplomatic sanctions, and economic sanctions may follow,” he said.

Erdogan has threatened to take the Netherlands to the European Court of Human Rights over the ban on his ministers, which both the Dutch and Germans have imposed citing fears of unrest.

Dutch police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some protesters threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Mounted police officers charged the crowd.

SAARLAND, BELGIAN BANS

The small western German state of Saarland said on Tuesday it would ban political campaigning by foreign politicians.

“Internal Turkish conflicts have no place in Germany. Election appearances which put at risk domestic peace in our country must be banned,” State Premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.

“The atmosphere that has been created by Nazi comparisons and insults must not be allowed to escalate,” she said.

The Belgian city of Antwerp said it would not allow a politician from the nationalist MHP party to speak at an event, although Ali Guler was still set to appear on Sunday at a Turkish restaurant in Genk, in the east of the country.

While Turkish law forbids election campaigning abroad and in diplomatic missions, ministers are circumventing the ban by holding what they say are cultural events with Turkish citizens.

Erdogan has said that those who oppose the referendum, are aligning themselves with terrorists. He has also accused European states, including Germany, of harboring terrorism, an allegation they deny.

SHARP WORDS FOR MERKEL

EU states are also unhappy with what they see as an increasingly authoritarian tone from Turkey and the spat is likely to further dim Ankara’s prospects of EU membership.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn called on Turkey to moderate its language and avoid further escalating the dispute.

Erdogan renewed his attack on Merkel after she criticized his “Nazi remnants” jibe against the Dutch.

“The countries that have embraced this thuggery have lost all their credibility. The Chancellor of Germany has come out and said she supported the Netherlands. We know that you are no different from them,” Erdogan said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Turkish sanctions, while “not too bad”, were inappropriate as the Dutch had more to be angry about.

Ankara’s foreign ministry said the European Union was exercising democratic values selectively.

“It is very grave for the EU to hide behind member country solidarity and stand by the Netherlands, which has clearly violated human rights and European values,” it said.

(Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, Ece Toksabay and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Daren Butler in Istanbul; Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Madeline Chambers in Berlin and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Jon Boyle and Toby Davis)

Turkey’s Dictator Erdogan Chastises Germany About Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

Erdogan compares German cancellation of meetings with Nazi period

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday German actions in stopping political meetings of resident Turks that were due to be addressed by Turkish officials “were no different to those of the Nazi period”.

German authorities withdrew permission for two meetings in German cities last week that were part of a government campaign to win the 1.5 million-strong Turkish community’s support for sweeping new powers for Erdogan going to referendum in April.

“Germany, you have no relation whatsoever to democracy and you should know that your current actions are no different to those of Nazi period. When we say that, they get disturbed. Why are you disturbed?” he said at a rally in Istanbul.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; writing by Ralph Boulton; editing by Louise Heavens)

Gunman Identified In Istanbul Nightclub Attack, Turkish Authorities Say

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Gunman identified in Istanbul nightclub attack, Turkish authorities say

Story highlights

  • Authorities detain 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday’s attack
  • ISIS claimed responsibility on Twitter, but CNN can’t independently verify it

Istanbul (CNN)Turkish authorities said Wednesday they have identified the gunman who killed 39 people in the New Year’s nightclub terror attack in Istanbul.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu announced the development but did not name the suspect or provide his nationality.
Nightclub attack: Full coverage
  • Victims from 14 countries
  • Dozens killed when gunman opens fire
  • Authorities have also detained 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday morning’s attack at the Reina nightclub, state-run news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.
    Counterterrorism officers arrested the suspected militants at four addresses in the Bornova and Buca districts of the Aegean province of Izmir, according to Anadolu. Eleven women were among those arrested.
    Anadolu said those detained are thought to have lived with the attacker in the central Anatolian city of Konya.
    Anadolu also reported that an array of military hardware was discovered during the raids, including night-vision equipment, a sniper scope, an ammunition belt and other items. Twenty children found at the addresses were taken into temporary care.
    Altogether, at least 36 people are being held in connection with the nightclub shooting, though the gunman who carried it out remains at large.
    ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to Twitter, but CNN cannot independently verify it. The terror group boasted of carrying out the first major terrorist attack of 2017.

    Suspect seen in selfie video

    On Monday, police released a video that the suspected gunman apparently took of himself in a market near the nightclub.
    The “selfie video” featuring the man in Istanbul’s Taksim Square was first posted on a pro-ISIS Telegram account before Turkish media broadcast it, said Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, an American business risk intelligence company tracking terrorist and cyber threats.
    Alkhouri told CNN that such a release suggests the attacker was part of a network supportive of or linked to ISIS, and that he had shared the selfie footage with the terror group before or after the attack.

    Growing threats

    On Tuesday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told lawmakers that Turkish security forces had prevented 339 major terror incidents in 2016 — 80 of which came in the final three months of the year.
    In his speech to parliament, Soylu cited attacks launched by the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as those by Daesh, the Arabic term for ISIS.
    Anadolu quoted Soylu as saying that “313 of the incidents were planned by PKK, 22 by Daesh and four by radical leftist groups.”
    He said that 247 improvised explosives and 61 bomb vehicles had been seized in 12 months.
    He also revealed the capture of 23 suicide bomber suspects as well as 42 terrorist group members who were preparing for attacks.
    Both ISIS and Kurdish militants have launched attacks in Turkey, which is reeling from a failed military coup in July.
    On Wednesday, Anadolu reported that authorities arrested four people, including a woman, in connection with a December 17 car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded dozens in the central city of Kayseri.

    Victims from 14 countries

    At least 11 victims in this week’s attack on the upscale nightclub were from Turkey, according to Anadolu, while at least 27 victims hailed from 13 other countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Canada.
    Dozens of people were hospitalized. A handful of the injured were in critical condition.

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman 02:23
    Witnesses described how the New Year’s Eve celebration turned into a bloodbath.
    “We were having fun. At first we thought it was a fight, then there was a lot of gunfire,” Yunus Turk told CNN.
    “After the gunfire, everyone started to run toward the terrace. We ran as well. There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas.”

    It Was Okay To Kill Them, They Were Sinning

     

    This is a short editorial about the New Year’s massacre at a nightclub in Istanbul Turkey. Even though it is my belief that the President of Turkey Mr. Erdogan is the single biggest reason for the turmoil in Turkey because of his policies, I do not wish to make this particular article about his personal evils. This article is about people like the person who was the shooter and anyone who had prior knowledge of his actions or post knowledge of his whereabouts who have not turned him into the police.

     

    The Demonic Sunni Islamic group in Syria who calls themselves ISIS as well as many other names has taken “credit”  for the murder of those 39 people in the nightclub as well as the 40 whom were injured. Credit, think about the theology behind that statement. In a civilized society when someone murders a person or persons, they try to keep it quiet, they don’t want the police to know that you murdered that person or persons. Civilized is the key word in that last sentence. A civilized culture, it does not appear that the Arabian Desert of 1,400 years ago was a civilized culture.

    Isis says that this nightclub was a target because it is a place where Pagans/unbelievers celebrate their Pagan holidays. CNN reported this morning that 24 of the 39 dead were actually believers of Islam, that is about 2/3, they didn’t give the numbers on the wounded. In reality ISIS sent one of their Demonic goons to a nightclub to kill as many people as possible, reality is that somewhere around 2/3 of the people in that club worshiped the same ‘God’ as the ISIS folks do. But you know, that is okay. Do you know why it is okay? It is okay because those ‘Arab’ folks in that nightclub were sinning. These people were drinking alcohol, listening to music and dancing, with infidels (unbelievers) no less, so they obviously were openly sinning. You know, ISIS was only carrying out the Commandments of Allah, so, they were putting themselves in the place of God as God is the only one who has the right to pass judgement on people like that. Who knows, these Muslim people who were murdered may have turned their lives around and started following the strictest versions of Islam later this year or later in their lives. But the gunman and ISIS decided to ‘play God’ and execute them now, before they had a chance to change their ways. It is the gunman and ISIS who put themselves in the place of God by executing these people, thus condemning them to Hell forever. The gunman and ISIS decided it was up to them to be the Judge, Jury, and the Executioner for these people. Who knows, maybe even people of other religions that they murdered would have changed their religions and have started worshiping Allah before they died, but they, the ‘God players’ didn’t give them that chance. Obviously it was okay to kill them, they were sinning. I guess that this means that the ISIS folks are perfect and never sin themselves, we know this because otherwise they would all be dead now from suicide.

    The Religion Of Love Strikes Again: At Least 35 People Murdered At Least 40 Injured

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC NEWS GROUP AND CNN TURK)

     

    Istanbul Reina nightclub attack ‘leaves 35 dead’

    • 5 minutes ago
    • From the section Europe
    Media caption Emergency services at Istanbul nightclub attack

    At least 35 people have lost their lives in an attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, the city’s governor has said.

    Among the dead is one police officer, Vasip Sahin stated, adding that it was a terror attack.

    At least another 40 were injured in the attack which took place in the Reina nightclub, in the Ortakoy area, at about 01:30 local time (23:30 GMT).

    One attacker was involved, the governor said, while CNN Turk reported he was dressed in a Santa Claus costume.

    “A terrorist with a long-range weapon … brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Mr Sahin told reporters at the scene of the upmarket Reina nightclub, which sits on the banks of Bosphorus in the city’s European side.

    At least 40 people were injured in the attack

    There were reportedly as many as 700 people in the nightclub at the time of the attack, some of whom are believed to have jumped into the river to escape.

    Dogan news agency reported that some witnesses claimed the attackers were “speaking Arabic” while Turkish television channel NTV said special force police officers were searching the nightclub.

    Istanbul was already on high alert with some 17,000 police officers on duty in the city, following a string of terror attacks in recent months.

    Many were carried out by so-called Islamic State (IS) or Kurdish rebels.

    Ambulances queue up outside the nightclub

    Less than a fortnight ago, the Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead by off-duty Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas as he gave a speech in the capital Ankara in December.

    After the shooting, the killer shouted the murder was in revenge for Russian involvement in the conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo.


    Deadly attacks in Turkey in 2016

    Scene of explosion in Ankara's central Kizilay district on 13 March 2016Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image captionScene of explosion in Ankara’s central Kizilay district on 13 March

    10 December: Twin bomb attack outside a football stadium in Istanbul kills 44 people, Kurdish militant group claims responsibility

    20 August: Bomb attack on wedding party in Gaziantep kills at least 30 people, IS suspected

    30 July: 35 Kurdish fighters who try to storm a military base are killed by the Turkish army

    28 June: A gun and bomb attack on Ataturk airport in Istanbul kills 41 people, in an attack blamed on IS militants

    13 March: 37 people are killed by Kurdish militants in a suicide car bombing in Ankara

    17 February: 28 people die in an attack on a military convoy in Ankara


    Related Topics

    Russia’s Ambassador To Turkey Shot Dead In Ankara Turkey

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME )

    Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in Ankara on Monday in an attack that will unsettle the delicate diplomacy over the regional crisis emanating from the civil war in Syria.

    The shooting comes at a moment of high stakes negotiations between Turkey and Russia, with implications for the future of the conflict which has left as many as half a million people dead.

    Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot at an art gallery in Ankara on Monday. In video footage, the ambassador stands at a podium as gunfire rings out. He flinches and then drops to the floor. Standing behind him, a man wearing a dark suit and tie raises one finger skyward and shouts, “Allahu akbar.”

    The gunman continues speaking. “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria!” he shouts in Turkish.

    The attacker was killed following the shooting, according to Turkish state media. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed Karlov’s death.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the assassination a “terrorist attack.” According to Russia’s TASS news agency, she said Russia was in contact with Turkish officials who had had pledged an “all-round” investigation into the shooting. “The attackers will be punished,” she said.

    Russia’s support for the regime of President Bashar Assad has angered sections of the public in Turkey, where the government supports Syrian rebel groups who have been attempting to oust Assad.

    The attack took place on the eve of a diplomatic summit in Moscow including the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, a meeting of key regional powers that back opposing sides in the Syrian war.

    Last week, Turkey and Russia negotiated an agreement to evacuate the remaining civilians and rebel fighters from a besieged enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo, marking a victory for the Assad government and a turning point in more than five and a half years of crisis.

    The Turkish and Russian governments recently set aside tensions following a period of deep discord. Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that crossed into its airspace along the Syrian border in November 2015, triggering months of hostility in which Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached a rapprochement in June and Turkey hosted the Russian leader at an energy summit in Istanbul in September.

    Turkey: Twin Bombs Outside Istanbul Football Stadium Kill Dozens

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

    Turkey: Twin explosions outside football stadium kill 29 in Istanbul

    WORLD Updated: Dec 11, 2016 07:51 IST

    AFP

    Highlight Story

    Smoke rises from a car after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

    Twenty nine people were killed — mainly police officers — and 166 wounded in double bombings that struck Istanbul on Saturday after a home football match hosted by top side Besiktas, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said.Twenty-seven of those killed were police and two were civilians, he told reporters in Istanbul, adding that 10 suspects had already been detained over the bombing.

    A car bomb detonated outside the Vodafone Arena football stadium on the shores of the Bosphorus after the Super Lig match between Besiktas and Bursaspor while a suicide attacker struck a nearby park, officials said.

    The authorities did not say who was behind the blasts but the attacks were the latest in a year that has seen Istanbul and other Turkish cities rocked by a string of attacks blamed on Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militants.

    The health ministry said in a statement that 15 people were killed and 69 wounded.

    “An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. Besiktas is also the name of the neighbourhood around club’s arena.

    Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

    “We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

    Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said one blast took place outside the stadium and another at Macka Park, a popular meeting place just above the sports venue.

    “The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

    He said the stadium attack targeted a bus of riot police.

    ‘We will stand firm’

    State broadcaster TRT showed images of the wreckage of a car, engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the sports venue.

    Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

    An AFP correspondent near the stadium saw ambulances gathering in the aftermath of the explosion, as well as broken glass on the road.

    “I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots,” one witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Police and ambulances arrive the scene after a blast in Istanbul. (Reuters Photo)

    Besiktas football club issued a statement condemning the attack and confirming none of the fans or players were hurt.

    “Terrorists… attacked our heroic security forces who ensure that both our fans and Bursaspor’s supporters are safe. We will stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal.”

    Police cordoned off the area around the stadium immediately after the blasts, which occurred near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce palace that houses Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s offices in Istanbul.

    The scene is also about a kilometre (0.6 miles) from the busy Taksim Square, a magnet for tourists.

    Erdogan was in Istanbul at the time of the blast at his residence in the suburb of Tarabya further down the Bosphorus, state media said.

    The government slapped a broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country.

    ‘We will defeat terror’

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

    In his statement, Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organisation which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter.

    “Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

    In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming IS.

    Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

    But there have also been deadly bombings claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

    The US embassy in Turkey condemned the latest attack.

    “Our hearts and prayers are with the people of #Istanbul tonight,” the embassy wrote on Twitter. “We condemn tonight’s cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror.”

    Turkey is still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed by the government on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from state institutions.

    Saturday’s attack came after the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies on Saturday entered the IS bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group.

    Wounded police officers are helped after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

    Al-Bab is the last bastion IS has in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

    The explosions also came hours after Turkey’s ruling party submitted a parliamentary bill that would expand the powers — and possibly the tenure — of Erdogan, a move his opponents fear will lead to one-man rule.

    Massacre In Aleppo: Honestly How Can Anyone In The Whole World Be Surprised By This?

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘MIDDLE EAST ONLINE’ NEWS)

    First Published: 2016-12-02

    Protests erupt in Istanbul over ‘Aleppo massacre’
    Istanbul protests Syrian regime’s recent brutal assault on Aleppo, where Assad government aims to recapture all rebel-held areas.
    Middle East Online

    ISTANBUL – Around 1,000 people protested in Istanbul on Friday against the operation being waged by President Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria’s second city of Aleppo, accusing them of committing a “massacre”.

    “Stop the massacre in Aleppo!”, demonstrators chanted as they held placards saying “the bombing is not against Aleppo but our humanity” and “our brotherhood is besieged, not Aleppo”.

    The protest outside Istanbul University had been organised by religious student associations who called for “imperialist Russia to leave Syria”.

    In recent days, Assad’s army has pressed a fierce assault aimed at retaking the whole of the city which is currently divided between the regime in the west and the rebels in the east.

    The offensive, supported by heavy artillery, has triggered an exodus of tens of thousands of residents from the rebel-held east as Assad made significant gains in the past week.

    The assault has left 42 children dead, from a total of more than 300 civilians killed since November 15.

    Moscow intervened militarily in support of Damascus last year but says it is not involved in the current assault on Aleppo. Turkey supports the Syrian opposition.

    Protester Ramazan Kaya said Ankara should “raise its voice” against the regime offensive. “If we don’t react, if we stay like observers of this massacre — that is absolutely intolerable.”

    On Friday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated Turkey’s opposition to Assad remaining president.

    “We supported the Assad regime before he started killing his own people… But, at this stage, we have to be realistic that the person who kills almost 600,000 people should not rule any country,” he said during a visit to Lebanon.