Turkey Wins Backing from NATO as it Steps Up Fight Against ISIS in Syria

Flags with pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, a jailed Kurdish leader, at a protest in Brussels on Tuesday against the Turkish government. (Credit: John Thys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
Flags with pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, a jailed Kurdish leader, at a protest in Brussels on Tuesday against the Turkish government. (Credit: John Thys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Turkey turned to its allies in NATO on Tuesday for political backing, after it agreed to step up efforts against the Islamic State but also renewed its conflict with Kurdish militants.

“All allies expressed their strong support for Turkey, and we stand all together, united in solidarity with Turkey,” Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, told reporters at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels after a meeting of ambassadors of the 28 NATO allies.

But Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO after the United States, did not request any additional military assistance.

Its new stance has raised thorny questions for its allies, especially in Europe, about whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is more interested in smashing his Kurdish opponents than he is in defeating the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq.

The Kurds are the largest minority in Turkey, and have chafed under Turkish rule. A separatist militant group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the P.K.K., fought a 30-year insurgency there that ended in a fragile cease-fire two years ago, and Kurdish politicians now make up an important opposition bloc in the Turkish Parliament.

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SOURCE: JAMES KANTER
The New York Times

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