Nato chief calls on Turkey to show 'restraint' in Syria operation

Published October 11, 2019
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, speaks with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a meeting in Istanbul on Friday.  —Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, speaks with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a meeting in Istanbul on Friday. —Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed "serious concerns" on Friday about Turkey's ongoing operation against Kurdish forces in Syria and called for "restraint".

"I shared [...] my serious concerns about this ongoing operation and the risk of further destabilisation of the region," Stoltenberg told reporters in Istanbul, speaking alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"While Turkey has serious security concerns, we expect Turkey to act with restraint."

Stoltenberg emphasised that Turkey was an important part of the Nato alliance, but said the operation in Syria, which began on Wednesday, should not undermine gains against the militant Islamic State group.

"These gains must not be jeopardised. An imminent concern is that captured Daesh prisoners must not be allowed to escape," he said, using an alternative name for the militant IS.

Turkey considers Kurdish militants in northern Syria a "terrorist" offshoot of Kurdish insurgents in its own territory.

It wants a 30-kilometre (20-mile) wide buffer zone along the border, which can also serve as an area to repatriate millions of Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.

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