Toronto Star

Citing threat, Turkey calls NATO meeting

Country to discuss its recent airstrikes in Iraq, concerns about Kurds, Islamic State


ANKARA, TURKEY— Turkey is calling for a meeting of its NATO allies to discuss threats to its security and its airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria and Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

The move came Sunday as Turkey’s state-run media reported that Turkish F-16 jets again took off from the country’s southeaste­rn Diyarbakir airbase to hit Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, targets across the border in northern Iraq. There was no immediate confirmati­on of the report by TRT television, which came hours after authoritie­s said the Kurdish militants detonated a carbomb near Diyarbakir, killing two soldiers and wounding four others.

NATO announced that its decisionma­king body, the North Atlantic Council, will convene Tuesday after Turkey invoked the alliance’s Article 4, which allows member states to request a meeting if they feel their territoria­l integrity or security is under threat.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey would inform allies about the airstrikes, which followed an Islamic State suicide bombing near Turkey’s border with Syria that left 32 people dead, and an Islamic State attack on Turkish forces, which killed a soldier.

Turkey requested the meeting, which includes ambassador­s of all 28 member countries, “in view of the seriousnes­s of the situation after the heinous terrorist attacks in recent days,” NATO said.

NATO itself is not involved in operations against the Islamic State group, although many of its mem- bers are. As an alliance, however, NATO is committed to helping defend Turkey. Turkey has simultaneo­usly bombed Islamic State group positions near its border with Syria and Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq. It has also carried out widespread police operations against suspected Kurdish and Islamic State militants and other outlawed groups inside Turkey.

Hundreds of people have been detained.

Tensions flared with the Kurds following the Islamic State suicide bombing, as Kurdish groups blamed the Turkish government for not doing enough to prevent Islamic State operations.

On Wednesday, PKK claimed responsibi­lity for the killing of two policemen in the Kurdish majority city of Sanliurfa. PKK has said Turkey’s airstrikes likely spell the end of a ceasefire announced in 2013.

The PKK has fought Turkey for autonomy for Kurds in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

The Kurds are an ethnic group with their own language living in a region spanning present-day Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia.

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