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 destabilization 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 emphasized 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 ISIL Takfiri group.
“These gains must not be jeopardized. An imminent concern is that captured Daesh prisoners must not be allowed to escape,” he said, using an alternative acronym for ISIL.
They were asked about media reports that another NATO ally, Spain, might pull out its Patriot missiles from southern Turkey in response to the operation in Syria.
“We expect NATO allies to continue to provide support to Turkey because this is something that was agreed,” said Stoltenberg.
“Turkey is on the frontline… We are here to protect not just Turkey but to protect ourselves,” he added.