Turkish intelligence 'neutralizes' Istanbul attack mastermind: Reports
Turkish media says the man who played a key role in last year's Istanbul attack was killed in an operation.
Turkish forces have killed the alleged mastermind behind the deadly Istanbul street bombing in an operation in northern Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.
The Turkish state-run news agency said that the man, identified as Halil Menci, was "neutralized" on Wednesday in an operation by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) near the northern town of Qamishli.
The report cited information obtained from security sources as saying that Menci "directed the perpetrators of the Istanbul bomb attack, Ahlam Albashir and Bilal Hassan, and enabled Hassan to escape abroad."
According to the Anadolu Agency, "MIT's special operations team had been closely following Menci after it was learned that he was being protected" by Kurdish militants.
It is noteworthy that on November 20, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced that Turkey launched the "Operation Claw-Sword" offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and Syria.
The Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that the offensive was carried out in line with the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is committed to destroying the PKK "until its last militant is neutralized" and raised the possibility of conducting a ground operation soon, blaming the Kurdish militants for the November attack that killed six people in Istanbul.
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