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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday defended his stance on Turkey’s navy operation towards Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria, saying that the navy alliance mustn’t lose its unity within the combat towards Islamic State.

Splits within the navy alliance have emerged after NATO member Turkey started its offensive in Syria final week, with EU governments threatening sanctions towards Ankara. Stoltenberg visited Istanbul on Friday.

“We must not put in jeopardy the gains we have made against our common enemy,” Stoltenberg stated at a session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in London, in reply to questions from French and Italian delegates who had challenged what they described as his conciliatory approach to Turkey.
“Turkey is important for NATO … We risk undermining the unity we need in the fight against Daesh (Islamic State).”

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