NATO in 'strong solidarity' with Turkey against 'terrorism'

PHOTO: Reuters

BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that the military alliance stood firmly by key member Turkey in the face of "terrible acts of terror" and instability along its southern border.

"NATO is following developments very closely and we stand in strong solidarity with our ally Turkey," Stoltenberg said at the opening of an emergency meeting of all 28 member states requested by Ankara.

"Terrorism in all its forms can never be tolerated or justified. It is right and timely that we hold this meeting today to address the instability on Turkey's doorstep and on NATO's border," Stoltenberg said.

Turkey, the alliance's only Muslim member and one of its most powerful, called for the meeting after a bloody attack it blamed on "terrorists" in the southern town of Suruc last week.

Stoltenberg made no comment about Turkey's decision to launch strikes against Islamic State jihadi fighters and Kurdish militants in Syria, in effect combining its campaigns against the Kurds and IS into a broad "war on terror" even though the two groups are themselves bitterly opposed.

The move has raised doubts over whether Turkey is more interested in limiting Kurdish capabilities in Syria and Iraq than in tackling IS.

Stoltenberg told the BBC on Sunday that "self-defence has to be proportionate" and it was expected that at Tuesday's meeting, Turkey will face close questioning over the apparent change in strategy.

NATO allies, led by the United States, have up to now seen Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq as one of the most effective military options against IS.

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