Turkey “has legitimate security concerns” as it has suffered the most terrorist attacks compared to other NATO allies, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said on Feb. 13, speaking at a press conference in Brussels ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting.
“No NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey, and, of course, they have the right to address these security concerns,” Stoltenberg said.
“But they should do that in a proportionate and measured way,” the chief added, referring to Turkey’s ongoing military operation carried out alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria’s northwestern Afrin district since Jan. 20.
“Operation Olive Branch” aims to clear Afrin, which borders Turkey, of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are openly backed by another NATO ally: The U.S.
“I expect Turkey to continue as allies,” Stoltenberg said.
He also confirmed that Turkey had briefed the alliance “last week” and that he had been in regular contact with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding the operation.
On Jan. 17, the U.S.-led coalition announced plans to build a 30,000-strong border security force in Syria with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed group composed mainly of the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terror organization for its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).