Following the announcement of U.S.-Turkish plans to form a safe zone in northern Syria near the Turkish border, NATO leaders voiced their continuing support Monday for Turkey's growing presence in the fight against the Islamic State group. While the safe zone would not technically be a no-fly zone, both the U.S. and Turkey had hopes that the area could serve as a refuge for displaced Syrians. The agreement will allow U.S. planes to take off from Turkey in exchange for U.S. help in insulating Turkey from the escalating violence in Syria.
A NATO meeting was called by Turkey under Article 4 of the NATO alliance, which allows member countries to call an emergency meeting. The talks are set to take place Tuesday in order to discuss heightened airstrikes in Syria following last week's terror attack in Turkey that killed more than 30 people in Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a phone call of "[the] solidarity and support of Germany in the fight against terrorism." Germany has long been a vocal presence in NATO, and Tuesday's meeting will address Turkey's broadening role in fighting ISIS alongside other veteran NATO countries.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also voiced strong support for Turkey's role in forging a safe zone in Syria against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “We want the focus to be on ISIL. It is important that Turkey made these steps and we will encourage them to do that," Cameron said Monday, speaking of Turkey's continuing dedication to fighting Islamic militants.
Britain recently announced plans to step up airstrikes in Syria and possibly in Libya against ISIS militants, and it is one of several NATO nations, including Germany and the U.S., that has increased its presence in Syria in recent months to help wipe out the Islamic State group.