NATO assures Turkey of ongoing support in fight against ISIL
BRUSSELS - Anadolu AgencyTurkey is among the NATO allies most affected by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorism, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated on May 19.
Addressing a press conference in Brussels before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on security challenges in Afghanistan, Middle East, North Africa and Russia, Stoltenberg vowed that NATO would continue to “stand in solidarity with Turkey.”
“We have increased our presence and continue to implement our assurances given to Turkey,” he said, referring to the delicate situation in the southern province of Kilis, which has been subjected to deadly shelling in recent month by ISIL from across the border in Syria.
Stoltenberg said the alliance’s AWACS surveillance aircraft were currently flying over Turkey, while the number of port visits, port calls of naval ships from NATO allied countries had increased.
“Everything we can do to support the efforts of the coalition fighting ISIL is important for Turkey,” he added.
Turkey has been hit by a series of rocket attacks originating from ISIL-held Syrian territory since mid-January. A total of 21 people have been killed and scores have been wounded by rockets fired at the border province of Kilis since Jan. 18.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş - speaking on May 2 after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - said that over the last three months 55 rockets have been fired by ISIL into Kilis.
The Turkish military has shelled ISIL positions in retaliation, striking ISIL gun emplacements and ammunition dumps in the Suran, Arshak, Ikdakh and Ihtimalat regions of Syria on May 2. The retaliation initially killed 50 militants, with this figure later rising to 64.