NATO’s Stoltenberg defends stance on Turkey’s offensive in Syria

LONDON (Reuters) – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday defended his stance on Turkey’s assault on Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria as he got here beneath strain from some members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to be harder with Ankara.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attends a information convention in Istanbul, Turkey, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

Splits in the navy alliance have emerged after NATO member Turkey started its offensive in Syria final week, with the governments of EU nations which are additionally NATO members suspending weapon gross sales to Turkey.

Appearing in London at a plenary session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, a physique made up of delegates from the legislatures of member states, Stoltenberg stated he had expressed deep considerations to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan when he noticed him in Istanbul on Friday.

Stoltenberg stated he had informed Erdogan and his overseas minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that Turkey’s navy operations in northern Syria risked additional destabilizing the area, escalating tensions and inflicting extra human struggling.

“I expect Turkey to act with restraint and in coordination with other allies so that we can preserve the gains we have made against our common enemy, Daesh (Islamic State),” he stated, including that one imminent concern was that captive fighters from the jihadist group shouldn’t be allowed to flee.

But throughout a question-and-answer session after his speech, Stoltenberg confronted strong remarks from a number of delegates, notably these from France and Belgium, each nations the place lethal assaults linked to Islamic State have taken place.

Christian Cambon, a member of the French Senate, stated the state of affairs was unacceptable and recommended that Stoltenberg was being too delicate on Turkey.

“We were surprised by the tone of your statement in Istanbul, I have to tell you. Was that in consultation with our great American ally?” Cambon requested, to applause from among the different delegates.

He was referring to President Donald Trump’s abrupt determination to drag U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, which was the catalyst for the Turkish offensive. Ankara views the YPG Kurdish militia in northern Syria as terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency being waged inside Turkey.


U.S. and Kurdish troops beforehand fought collectively towards the Islamic State, and the Kurds have accused Trump of stabbing them in the again.

Cambon known as on the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s primary decision-making physique, to convene. He stated it ought to “speak loudly and clearly in defense of the values of democracy and peace that characterize NATO’s work”.

In response, Stoltenberg reiterated that he had expressed his deep considerations throughout his conferences in Istanbul.

“The only way you can understand what is going on there is also to understand the important role Turkey has played,” stated Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister.

“Turkey is essential for NATO. It has confirmed essential in some ways, not least in the combat towards Daesh. We have used, as NATO allies, the worldwide coalition, all of us have used infrastructure in Turkey, bases in Turkey in our operations to defeat Daesh.

“And that’s precisely one of many the reason why I’m involved about what goes on now. Because we threat undermining the unity we want in the combat towards Daesh.”

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and Alistair Smout; Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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