NATO countries have decided to deploy AWACS surveillance aircraft to support the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
In remarks made at a press conference on the second day of the NATO summit in Warsaw Saturday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We are now agreed in principle that NATO’s AWACS surveillance aircraft will provide direct support to the coalition forces.
“This is a clear signal of our resolve to help tackle terrorism.”
Stoltenberg also said the surveillance aircraft would operate in Turkish and international airspace.
“The plan is to have the planes flying over international airspace and over Turkey. And that will enable them to look into the airspace over both Iraq and Syria,” he said.
NATO’s chief diplomat also emphasized the alliance would consider further reassurance measures to defend Turkey against all possible threats from Syria.
“Turkey is the NATO ally most affected by the turmoil and violence to the south,” he told reporters.
“We are working closely with Turkey on how to expand assurance measures in Turkey,” he added.
NATO has deployed Patriot and SAMP-T batteries in Turkey’s southeast to defend Turkish territories from possible missile attacks from Syrian territories.
– Training local forces
Stoltenberg said NATO countries also decided to begin a military training program for Iraqi local forces in Iraq, to enable them to more effectively fight against Daesh.
“That is also important for Turkey. Because Turkey is bordering both Syria and Iraq. And everything we do to fight ISIL [Daesh], will also be of great benefit for Turkey,” he said.
NATO allies have already begun providing military training to Iraqi forces in neighboring Jordan, but upon the request of the Iraqi government, they decided to move the training to Iraq.
Stoltenberg also announced that NATO would provide military and technical support to Jordan, Tunisia and Libya, to support these countries in their fight against terrorism.
“In Tunisia, we are working to establish a new intelligence ‘Fusion Centre’. We will shortly begin providing support for Tunisian Special Operational Forces,” he said.
“And we continue preparations to assist Libya design security policies and structures which will help them unify and better defend their country against groups like ISIL [Daesh],” he added.
Asked whether NATO would also provide military equipment to local forces fighting Daesh, such as Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq, Stoltenberg said this was not an issue on the agenda.
– Carter-Isik meeting
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met Turkish Minister of Defense Fikri Isik Saturday on the sidelines of the NATO summit.
Carter again strongly condemned the June 28 terrorist attack on Istanbul Ataturk Airport, according to a statement released by his office.
He vowed the U.S. will continue to work intensively with Turkey to counter the threat of terrorism, of any kind, with both nations’ militaries standing shoulder-to-shoulder in Incirlik and elsewhere, the statement said.
The two leaders reaffirmed their unyielding resolve to deal Daesh a lasting defeat, and discussed the broad range of ongoing cooperative efforts to accelerate the terror group’s defeat, it said.
Carter also expressed appreciation for Turkey’s efforts to reduce international tensions in Europe and the Middle East.
– Turkey-Poland military agreement
Turkey and Poland signed a cooperation agreement Saturday in the field of electronic warfare capabilities.
The letter of intent signed between Isik and his Polish counterpart Antoni Macierewicz on the sidelines of the NATO summit aims to develop capabilities of NATO allies in the field of electronic warfare.
The two countries would also develop projects to enhance electronic warfare capabilities of NATO and expect other NATO allies to join the initiative, Turkish defense ministry sources said.