NATO ready to protect Turkey from Syrian conflict

Updated: 2013-09-14 07:34


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BUDAPEST - NATO's primary concern amid the conflict in Syria is to keep its allies safe, which at this time means defending Turkey, Air Force General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Operations told Hungarian wire service MTI in a Friday interview.

Breedlove, a four-star general of the US, is attending a three-day meeting of NATO's senior military authority, the Military Committee. He said NATO would do whatever it took to protect Turkey, which borders Syria, adding that at this point, that was NATO's sole responsibility as far as Syria was concerned.

Breedlove acknowledged that NATO had Patriot missiles deployed along the Turkish-Syrian border, which it would use for defensive purposes if necessary. He also said he thought the countries of the world agreed that the Syrian conflict needed to end as soon as possible. However, he added, it was too soon to say how it would end.

Regarding the chemical weapons, he said that NATO's allies increasingly agreed that the Assad regime had used them against its own people. Chemical weapons were weapons of mass destruction, he added, and all such weapons were a global threat.

Breedlove praised the NATO alliance, calling it the most successful alliance in world history. He acknowledged that the economic downturn was a challenge but, he said, it was also an opportunity to streamline operations while waiting for members to weather the crisis.

Speaking about NATO's relationship with Hungary, he had nothing but praise for Hungary's participation in Kosovo and said it was also doing  its share in Afghanistan.