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NATO Rules Out Combat Missions in Syria, Iraq
By Ayhan Simsek

NATO will continue its support for the global coalition fighting Daesh but will not engage in combat operations in Syria or Iraq, the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

Addressing a joint news conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Stoltenberg said fighting international terrorism will be one of the main topics of an upcoming summit of NATO leaders in Brussels on May 25.

Asked whether NATO will officially join the global coalition against Daesh, as suggested recently by the U.S. according to media reports, Stoltenberg said discussions were currently underway among NATO member states.

"If NATO joins the coalition, it will not change the role of NATO. Because NATO will continue to provide support, we will continue to focus on training. NATO will not be engaged in the combat operations. No one has asked for a NATO role in the combat operations, neither in Syria nor in Iraq," he stressed.

Stoltenberg said NATO members were likely to reach a decision on the issue at their Brussels summit, focusing on providing support to the global coalition with intelligence and training.

"What NATO has started to do is to provide some support operations, with our AWACS surveillance planes. And also to do some training in Iraq. And I strongly believe that NATO has an untapped potential when it comes to building local capacity, training local forces," he said.

"Because I think one lesson we have learned from Afghanistan, but actually from Iraq, is that in the long-run, the only viable solution is to enable local government, local forces to stabilize their own country and to fight terrorism," he added.

Stoltenberg also noted that while NATO has not yet joined the anti-Daesh league, all of its 28 member states were individual members of the coalition formed in 2014.

Currently more than 60 states and institutions such as the European Union, Arab League and Interpol are the members of the coalition.


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