01:14 GMT +308 December 2019
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    A Turkish and an Union Jack flags are pictured at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels

    Turkey Not 'Blackmailing' NATO Into Supporting Syria Ops by Vetoing Baltics Defence Plan – Report

    © AFP 2019 / GEORGES GOBET
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    Many of Turkey's allies in NATO have condemned its military operation "Peace Spring" in Syria, targeting mostly local Kurdish militia, such as the military wing of the US-led coalition's ally – Syrian Democratic Forces. Ankara continued the operation despite criticism from the alliance.

    Turkey is not trying to "blackmail" NATO members into forcing them to lend support to Ankara’s operation against Syrian Kurds by skewing the vote on a defence plan for the Baltics and Poland, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed Turkish source.

    "NATO is an institution where Turkey has full veto rights, politically and militarily, and there are procedures here. There is no such thing as Turkey blackmailing, a statement like that is unacceptable", the source said.

    According to an earlier report by Reuters, citing anonymous NATO officials, Ankara thwarted the approval of the defence plan for the Baltic States and Poland by using its veto right in the vote, alleging that it was tied to NATO members refusing to support Turkey's offensive in northern Syria.

    “[The Turks] are taking Eastern Europeans hostage, blocking approval of this military planning until they get concessions", one of the sources told Reuters.

    Sources claimed that Ankara demanded to recognise the Kurdish YPG as a terrorist organisation in exchange for lifting the veto. Another source clarified that it was supposed to be a part of a separate defence plan for Turkey and would have been done if the country was attacked from Syrian territory. But this defence plan was never approved reportedly due to the US withdrawing support for it.

    Operation "Peace Spring" in Syria

    Turkey's decision to start an offensive in northern Syria targeting mostly Kurdish militias, such as the YPG, the military branch of the SDF, a US-led coalition ally, sparked harsh criticism from many of Ankara's NATO allies, including Washington.

    Despite the opposition, Turkish forces advanced further into the Kurdish territory as US troops supporting them started withdrawing from these areas. The operation was halted after Turkey negotiated separate deals with the US and Russia, ensuring the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the Syrian-Turkish border.

    In addition, Moscow and Ankara agreed to hold joint military patrols along the line of the Turkish operation to ensure the withdrawal agreement is carried out.

    Related:

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    Macron Says Turkey Can't Expect Solidarity From NATO After Syria Offensive
    Turkish Offensive in Syria to Continue Until Achievement of Its Goals - Security Council
    Car Bomb Blast Near Syria's Ras al-Ain Kills 17 People, Turkish Defence Ministry Says
    Russian Defence Ministry Says It Conducts Joint Patrol with Turkey in Syria's Al-Hasakah
    Tags:
    Poland, Baltic states, US, NATO, Kurds, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Turkey
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