White House

GOP lawmakers cite Turkey attack in challenging Obama's ISIS strategy

Senator blames Obama administration for having 'no strategy' to defeat threat abroad

 

The White House on Tuesday strongly condemned the deadly terror attack in Istanbul that tore through a popular tourist area killing 10 people -- as Republican lawmakers cited the attack in renewing pressure on President Obama to crack down on ISIS. 

“Americans are so anxious right now about their security, about what's going on around the world. Just look at what happened today in Istanbul in the tourist district where at least 10 people were killed,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said. “We've passed a law requiring the president to put forward a plan to defeat this threat and I hope that he will deliver.” 

Though no group immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed ISIS. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News that until the U.S. takes out the terror group’s base in Raqqa, Syria, more attacks are likely.

“It’s going to continue and the tragedy of all this is that as we celebrate the ... re-taking [of] Ramadi, the second-largest city in Iraq is still under ISIS control and there is no strategy whatsoever to take [on] ISIS,” he told Fox News. “As long as this administration is in power you will see this base of operations and propaganda and effective attacks throughout the world.”

Following news of the attack, the White House renewed its calls for a united campaign to defeat the terror organization.

“This heinous attack occurred in Istanbul’s historic heart, and struck Turks and foreign tourists alike,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a written statement. “We stand together with Turkey, a NATO ally, a strong partner and a valued member of the Counter-ISIL coalition, in the face of this attack and pledge our ongoing cooperation and support in the fight against terrorism.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., echoed the sentiment.

“The continued slaughter of innocent civilians is savage and unjustified, and the United States stands firmly with our allies, including the governments of Turkey and Iraq, to defeat those who use terror to pursue their despicable objectives,” Kaine said in a written statement.

The Virginia lawmaker, who was in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square last week, is part of an eight-member congressional delegation focused on regional security, including oversight of the war in Syria as well as U.S. efforts to combat ISIS.

Tuesday’s blast took place in Sultanahmet Square which is located in the city’s Fatih district and is home to the historic Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia museum.

“The United States will not [waver] in its pursuit of [ISIS] around the globe until it and its radical ideology is defeated,” Kaine said. He added, “That a bomber should attack an area representative of historical bridges between the East and West and Christian and Muslim only strengthens the resolve of our fight.”

"This incident has shown once again that we have to stand in full unity against terror," Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, according to the Hurriyet Daily News

"Turkey is resolute and its principled position will continue. It makes no difference to us what their names and abbreviations are. The first target of all terrorist organizations in this region is Turkey because Turkey is struggling against all of those with the same resolution."

Turkish officials identified the alleged attacker as Nabil Fadli. Fadli was born in Saudi Arabia in 1988 and recently entered Turkey through Syria. Fadli was not on an official terrorism watch list, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.