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NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen
NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen

NATO Ready to Defend Turkey & had no plan to Intervene Militarily in Syria

(DP-News - agencies)
BRUSSELS- NATO is ready to defend alliance member Turkey amid artillery exchanges along its tense southeastern border with Syria, its top official said Tuesday.

Following the five-day long shelling from the Syrian side on Turkish areas, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday that Ankara can rely on the alliance, which has "all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary."

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen backed Turkey's right to defend itself.

"I would add to that that obviously Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity, we have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary," he said.

"We hope that all parties involved (in the Syrian crisis) will show restrain, and avoid an escalation of the crisis," Fogh Rasmussen said. "I do believe that the right way forward in Syria is political solution."

In regard to the situation in Syria, Rasmussen said that the best solution there would be a political one.

NATO has been monitoring developments closely in Syria, he said.

Rasmussen said NATO had no plan to intervene militarily in Syria, but they were "ready" to defend Turkey if necessary.

Fogh Rasmussen also appealed to all parties involved to show restraint and avoid an escalation in the crisis.
 
NATO nations expressed solidarity with Turkey after errant Syrian shells killed five Turkish civilians last week. But analysts say the alliance is reluctant to involve itself militarily in another conflict at a time when its main priority is the war in Afghanistan and the handover of responsibility for security to Afghan government forces.

Rasmussen's comments came as the Dogan agency quoted unidentified military sources as saying that at least 25 additional F-16 fighter jets were deployed at Turkey's Diyarbakir air base in the southeast late Monday.

Also on Tuesday, Turkish military's chief of staff inspected troops along the border with Syria.

Turkey and Syria have exchanged mortar and cannon fire across their common border since errant Syrian shells killed five Turkish civilians last week. The border region has been the scene of bloody clashed between Syrian government forces and rebel militants who have used safe havens within Turkey.
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