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Nato chief voices ‘deep concerns’ over Turkish military action in northern Syria

Jens Stoltenberg spoke after a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes Jens Stoltenberg to Downing Street (Dan Kitwood/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes Jens Stoltenberg to Downing Street (Dan Kitwood/PA)

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has voiced “deep concern” about the consequences of Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria.

Mr Stoltenberg discussed the situation at a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street.

He expressed concern over the impact the military action could have on the fight against so-called Islamic State, which he referred to as Daesh.

Speaking outside Number 10 following the talks, the Nato chief said: “I am deeply concerned about the consequences.”

He added: “I am concerned about how this can further escalate the tensions in the region.

“How it can further destabilise the region, and the human suffering.

“And, not least, I am concerned about the consequences for … the gains we have made in fighting our common enemy, Daesh.

“And it is extremely important that we preserve those gains.”

Asked about the suspension of arms sales to Nato member Turkey by EU nations, Mr Stoltenberg said: “It reflects that many Nato allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said that Mr Johnson shared the Nato chief’s concern about the situation.

The spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister and secretary general both expressed their deep concern at the situation in northern Syria.

“They agreed that all Nato allies, including Turkey, should focus their efforts on defeating Daesh and not lose the gains that have been made in recent years.

“Both leaders stressed the value of Turkey as a Nato ally and recognised the role they have played in supporting refugees from the Syrian conflict.

“But they were clear that the current Turkish operation needed to end.”

PA

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