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Erdogan: ISIS seeks to destroy Muslim world

While describing ISIS as ‘virus,’ Erdogan asked: ‘Where do its weapons and financing come from? We need to focus on this’

Published: Updated:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday launched one of his strongest attacks yet against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, saying the group was a “virus” working to destroy the Muslim community.

Ankara has been repeatedly criticized in recent months for not doing enough to halt the advance of ISIS to its borders, but Erdogan said after meeting Iraqi President Fuad Masum that the group had to be confronted.

The ISIS group “is an important virus that is working to divide and destroy the ummah”, Erdogan told reporters in televised comments, using the term for the community of Muslims.

He said other groups had followed the same path but that ISIS had proved more adept and serious in using its resources.

“An international strategy is essential to drain this swamp. Even if Daesh is destroyed something will emerge under a different name,” said Erdogan, using a pejorative Arabic acronym to refer to ISIS.

“Where do its weapons and financing come from? We need to focus on this,” Erdogan said.

Turkey had itself been accused of aiding ISIS in the early stages of its existence as a useful ally in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Erdogan wants to see ousted.

But Ankara has vehemently denied the charges.