NATO chief Stoltenberg says US-led operation is clear message to Assad, Russia and Iran
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on April 16 said the U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria were a “clear message” to al-Assad, Russia and Iran.
Speaking to Turkish broadcaster NTV, Stoltenberg accused Russia of preventing the United Nations’ efforts to carry out an independent investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country.
“This operation has given a clear message to the al-Assad regime and his supporters Russia and Iran. It has shown them that the international public did not watch what happened there silently,” Stoltenberg said, adding that he also welcomes Turkey’s support for the operation.
He stressed that the operation aimed to “reduce the capacity of the use of chemical weapons.”
“There were efforts for an independent investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria but Russia prevented it,” Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on April 16 for official talks in the wake of the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria.
As for Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems, Stoltenberg said this was a “national decision” for Ankara to take.
“That’s a national decision for a NATO country. What matters for the NATO is whether it will be integrated into the NATO air defense system,” Stoltenberg said.
After he was welcomed by a military ceremony at the Defense Ministry, Stoltenberg met with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli. No further details were given about the gathering.
The NATO chief is also set to meet on April 16 with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during his visit, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The U.S., the U.K. and France early on April 14 launched airstrikes on reported al-Assad regime chemical weapons facilities in Syria.
The strikes followed the regime’s alleged chemical attack in Douma, which killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.