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NATO sees 'encouraging' progress in Syria

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NATO has seen "encouraging" progress over the last few days in Syria, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday. reports citing Turkish media.

"I think what we have seen over the last days is encouraging because it shows that it is possible to move towards a political settlement, a political solution," Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of a two-day defense ministers meeting due to start on Thursday in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said after Ankara launched an anti-terror operation in northern Syria on Oct. 9, he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and discussed the situation in northern Syria.

He reiterated that Ankara has "legitimate" security concerns on its southern border with Syria since no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara agreed with Washington on Oct. 17 to pause its operation for 120-hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.

Stoltenberg said he welcomed the joint statement by Turkey and the U.S., adding: "I welcome the fact that after the statement we have seen progress. We have seen significant reduction in violence [in northern Syria]."

He added NATO fully supports UN-led efforts to find a lasting political solution into the crisis in Syria.

2019.10.23 / 17:57
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