- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The British chairman of NATO’s Military Committee insisted that Turkey remains a vital part of the alliance, even with its controversial decisions to arm itself with Russian missiles and to invade a section of Syria that had been under Kurdish control.

Turkey has been an important ally of the alliance since the mid-1950s. That situation has not changed,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach told a group of defense writers on Wednesday.

Turkey has “legitimate security concerns” that are acknowledged by NATO, Air Chief Marshal Peach said, adding that the geostrategic reasons for adding Turkey to NATO more than 50 years ago haven’t changed. NATO’s Military Committee is essentially the board of directors of the alliance.

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“The size and strength of the Turkish armed forces is a matter of record. Turkey is therefore an important NATO ally and plays a full role in the NATO command structure,” he said.

Turkish military forces have played an important role in NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the alliance’s support of the United Nations mission in Kosovo, Air Chief Marshal Peach said.

“The capabilities that Turkey brings to the (NATO) alliance is important,” he said. “Military-to-military relations with Turkey remain strong.”

Asked about reports Turkish forces may have committed what amount to war crimes in its incursion into northern Syria, Air Chief Marshal Peach observed that was not part of any NATO operation. There are measures in place to ensure NATO operations observe proper rules of engagement and the accepted rules of war, he added.

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