NATO calls for a solution for Syria and focus on the fight against the Islamic State after the Turkish offensive

The allies avoid criticizing the US for withdrawing its forces and hardly discuss Germany's proposal to create a safe zone under international control


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has appealed to a political solution in Syria and has advocated focusing on the fight against the Islamic State, following the controversial Turkish offensive against Kurdish militias, which has generated many divergences among allies.

“There are different opinions among the allies and we have had a frank and open discussion, but we have focused on the way forward,” summed up the Allied Secretary General at a press conference following the debate held by NATO Defense Ministers on the situation in northern Syria.

NATO calls for a solution for Syria and focus on the fight against the Islamic State after the Turkish offensive
NATO calls for a solution for Syria and focus on the fight against the Islamic State after the Turkish offensive

Stoltenberg has called for further efforts to “find a political solution to the conflict in Syria” after the “significant” fall of violence in the last week on the ground.

“The ministers have also agreed that we need to maintain our commitment to our missions and operations in the region and we have agreed that we have to safeguard the achievements we have made in the fight against our common enemy, Islamic State,” he added.

Acting Defense Minister Margarita Robles has confirmed that Spain will maintain six more months, until June 2020, the deployment of the Patriot battery in Adana, in an “exclusive” context of a NATO peace mission, with the that Spain is engaged. “It is an exclusively defensive battery” to “protect civilians” in the area, a population of two million people, and “has no purpose of attack,” he stressed.

Although Spain will maintain its battery, Robles has claimed his Turkish colleague, Hulusi Akar, in a “very clear” and “blunt” way, that Turkey “cease any attack on the Syrian population” and “withdraw from Syria”. “We cannot accept any attack on the civilian population and we have said so to Turkey,” said Robles, who has acknowledged that “other” allies have sent the same message to Ankara at the meeting, although none has affected the withdrawal of US forces in the area, something that leveled the Turkish offensive against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria.

“We have been very clear and forceful, but it has been a constructive discourse. Because it is not enough simply to criticize, we must make a positive positioning,” Robles has summed up.

The incumbent Defense Minister has acknowledged that this is a “complicated” and difficult “matter because” not all countries have the same position “but” all “have argued that” NATO has to be cohesive “and work” to a united way “and a” call for unity “has been made, despite the fact that the Turkish” unilateral “offensive undoubtedly affects NATO.”

France is the country that has been “tougher” with Turkish unilateral action, while “several” countries have shown understanding of “Turkey's legitimate security concerns” and others have expressed “concern” about the impact of the agreement on Sochi reached by Russian, Vladimir Putin, and Turkish presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to jointly patrol northern Syria, as reported by various allied and diplomatic sources.

“Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation. The raid was unjustifiable. President Erdogan was determined to make this raid,” said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a previous conference organized by the think tank. German Marshall Fund

The Pentagon chief has defended himself against “some criticism about this” launched by some allies, especially France, for the withdrawal of their military forces from the area and having left Kurdish militias who have been the main ally of the West in the fight against Islamic states.

“There was no possibility that we were going to start a war with an NATO ally,” he said, making it clear that the United States, as some proposed, was not going to “take out planes and suggest that we are going to attack an ally of the NATO”.

“This is not feasible. We would have a different discussion today about the future of the Alliance if this had happened,” he said. The Pentagon chief has made it clear that the United States decided to withdraw “less than 50 soldiers from the attack zone” only “later.”

“When it was already very clear to us that President Erdogan had made the decision to cross the border,” he has riveted, making it clear that the United States was not going to “put at risk” the lives of his miliares, while defending that Although Turkey is heading in “the wrong direction” with its recent decisions, such as the offensive in northeastern Syria and its purchase of Russian S400 missiles, it is necessary to work with Ankara to become “a strong, reliable partner and responsible “of NATO.

Esper has confirmed that the United States will not send soldiers to patrol the 'safe zone' under international control, whose creation Germany has proposed, although it has supported the initiative. “I would support it, but we have no intention of (with) contributing ground forces or anything for such operation,” he explained.

“Spain's commitment to peace missions will always be very significant, but that being said, I think that the German proposal is not sufficiently elaborated nor does it still have a sufficient body so that we can pronounce ourselves, and NATO has not ruled on she, “Robles explained on her part, clarifying that the allies have limited themselves to stating that” a debate can be made about it “if it is substantiated.

Stoltenberg has made it clear that “there has been no special request for NATO troops in northeastern Syria or Syria” when asked about the assessment of the German proposal.

The secretary general has assured that among the allies there has been “a strong appeal for a stronger political international involvement to try to find a solution” in Syria and has celebrated that allies like Germany have presented “ideas” to try to “respond to a very difficult situation in northern Syria. ” “At the end of the day, we need a political solution,” he insisted, stressing the support for the UN's efforts to achieve this goal.

Stotenberg has warned that the situation “is fragile” and “may change” on the ground, which is why he has once again emphasized the responsibility of the 'in situ' forces of the different countries to ensure that detained jihadists cannot escape”.

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