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

October 14, 2019

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday defended his stance on Turkey’s attack on Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria as he came under pressure from some members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to be tougher with Ankara.

Splits in the military alliance have emerged after NATO member Turkey began its offensive in Syria last week, with the governments of EU countries that are also NATO members suspending weapon sales to Turkey.

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

Stoltenberg said he had told Erdogan and his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria risked further destabilizing the region, escalating tensions and causing more human suffering.

“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 said, adding that one imminent concern was that captive fighters from the jihadist group should not be allowed to escape.