Monday 20 August 2018

Nato chief calls on Erdogan to ease attacks against Kurds

Turkish soldiers stand on their tanks near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey. Photo: Reuters
Turkish soldiers stand on their tanks near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey. Photo: Reuters
Turkey’s President Erdogan. Photo: Reuters

Angus McDowall

Turkey has been urged to limit its use of force in northern Syria where its troops are battling a Kurdish militia that has been an important US ally in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said he had discussed developments in the region with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other alliance allies.

Mr Stoltenberg noted Turkey is an ally "that suffers the most from terrorism" and said that "all nations have the right to defend themselves, but this has to be done in a proportionate and measured way".

The United States has by far the biggest defence budget of any of the alliance's 29 members and wields most political influence, while Turkey has one of its biggest armies.

Tensions between them are an embarrassment for Nato, but Mr Stoltenberg has refrained from criticising either country and suggests it is a bilateral issue because the alliance has no troops on the ground in Syria.

Mr Erdogan has travelled to the country's border with Syria, where he was briefed on Turkey's military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin.

Officials from Mr Erdogan's office said the Turkish leader was visiting the command centre overseeing the offensive, codenamed Olive Branch, in Hatay province.

Irish Independent

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