Cooperation between Turkey and NATO is critical in the fight against Daesh, a senior NATO official said in Istanbul Wednesday.
“We need very good cooperation with Turkey… much better quality of dialogue between Turkey and Europe. That’s actually very critical (in the fight against Daesh),” Jamie Shea, NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, said at a conference titled “NATO-Turkey relations” in Bahcesehir University.
“It is not just Turkey’s question. Everybody has to accept the responsibility… What we all have to do is do a better job by understanding the complexity of the situation in the reality,” Shea said.
He described the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq on Daesh targets as successful. “The United States has estimated so far 6,000 ISIL soldiers have been killed. That has a big impact. … ISIL is big, but it is not big enough to sustain that level of casualties in the long run.”
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the ISIL, terrorist group.
Calling Turkey a loyal NATO ally, Shea appreciated Turkey’s efforts to host nearly two million Syrian refugees.
“If the (Turkish-Syrian) border were closed, where would the two million refugees go? The border has been open for the humanitarian purposes. I think it has been a fantastic gesture that Turkey has made. Turkey has been exerting considerable time and effort to take care with these people,” he said.
Syria has been gripped by violence since the Assad regime launched a violent crackdown in response to anti-government protests in March 2011, triggering a conflict that has left at least 210,000 people dead.
As many as 3.8 million Syrian refugees are registered in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, according to the UN.
The U.S. is leading an international coalition that has carried out numerous airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria since the militant group took over Mosul, in northern Iraq, in June 2014.