NATO declared its “strong solidarity” with Turkey yesterday as ambassadors gathered for a rare emergency meeting about the threat faced by a member.
Turkey requested the extraordinary meeting to gauge the threat the Islamic State extremist group poses to the country, and the actions Turkish authorities are taking in response, including attacks on Kurdish rebels.
We condemn the terrorist attacks against TurkeyNato ambassadors’ statement
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against Turkey, and express our condolences to the Turkish government and the families” of victims killed in recent terrorist actions, Nato ambassadors said in a statement after the meeting.
“Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of Nato countries and to international stability and prosperity. It is a global threat that knows no border, nationality or religion – a challenge that the international community must fight and tackle together.”
Nato’s founding treaty empowers member states to seek emergency consultations when they consider their “territorial integrity, political independence or security” to be in jeopardy. This was just the fifth such meeting in Nato’s 66-year history.
In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish and US officials were discussing the creation of a safe zone near Turkey’s border with Syria, which would be cleared of IS group presence and turned into a secure area for Syrian refugees to return.
An IS suicide bombing near Turkey’s border with Syria ten days ago left 32 people dead and an IS attack on Turkish forces killed a soldier. Yesterday Turkey said a soldier was wounded in an attack along the border with Iraq.
Last week Turkish warplanes started striking militant targets in Syria and agreed to allow the US to launch its own strikes from Turkey’s strategically located Incirlik Air Base.
Meanwhile former defence secretary Liam Fox said yesterday that Britain has a legitimate right to attack IS targets in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. Mr Fox said parliament must give the government the “tools it needs” to deal with threats to national security, which includes ending the “absurd” situation of allowing bombing raids against jihadists in Iraq but not Syria.
The UK should take part in a greater proportion of the coalition’s air strikes although troops should not be put on the ground, Mr Fox added. Prime Minister David Cameron indicated on Monday the UK could take military action against IS in Libya or Syria if there was an imminent threat to British lives.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Fox said: “I don’t think it’s healthy for the coalition against Isis that the United States is carrying out some 90 per cent or more of all the air strikes.
“I also think it’s an absurd position for the United Kingdom to have to say we will strike Isis, but only in Iraq and not Syria.”