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INTERNATIONAL > NATO says would help defend Turkey if threatened by Islamic State

BRUSSELS - Reuters

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NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed concern about the advance of the Islamic State. AA Photo

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed concern about the advance of the Islamic State. AA Photo

NATO would take all steps necessary to defend alliance member Turkey if it were threatened by Islamic State fighters who have made gains in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Aug. 11.

"We are very much concerned about the activities of the so-called Islamic State, which is a bunch of terrorists, and it is of utmost importance to stop their advance," Rasmussen told Reuters in an interview.

"If any of our allies, and in this case of course particularly Turkey, were to be threatened from any source of threat, we won't hesitate to take all steps necessary to ensure effective defence of Turkey or any other ally," he said.

NATO sent Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey last year to protect it from any spillover from the Syrian civil war but Rasmussen said Ankara had not asked the alliance for any further help following the Islamic State advance.

The alliance had held internal consultations, at Turkey's request, "on the whole situation in the region", he said.

The United States has begun a campaign of air strikes and humanitarian aid drops in northern Iraq but NATO was not considering any military action against Islamic State, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen's five-year term as NATO chief will finish at the end of September following a NATO summit in Wales. He will be succeeded by former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

August/11/2014

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