Ankara: NATO has contingency plan for Turkey

Defense Minister Ismet Yılmaz said if there was any attack on Turkey, ‘NATO’s joint defense mechanisms will be activated’

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NATO has a contingency plan to foil any threat emanating from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants on Turkish soil, a local daily reported Turkey’s Defense Minister Ismet Yılmaz as saying on Wednesday.

The plan was developed when NATO-member Turkey asked the alliance for contingency plans when unrest in neighboring Syria first started, Hurriyet Daily News reported Yilmaz as telling reporters late Oct. 6.

He added: “If there is an attack, NATO’s joint defense mechanisms will be activated.”

The minister said NATO will fulfill Article 5 of the Washington Treaty in the event of any threat from Syria to Turkey.

While Turkey voted to join the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Syria, at least 14 people were killed on Tuesday in pro-Kurdish protests across Turkey against Ankara’s refusal to intervene militarily against ISIS attacking the Syrian town of Kobane.

Turkey also warned on Tuesday that ISIS was on the verge of seizing Kobane even as U.S. and Arab warplanes launched fresh strikes on the militant group’s positions near the Kurdish town.

Asked about the ongoing clashes in the Kurdish-populated Syrian town of Kobane, Yılmaz said Turkey aims to act with the international community “with minimum damage.”

Yilmaz’s statement came after NATO’s new chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would step in to defend Turkey in the face of any attack from ISIS.

Protests in Brussels

In a related story, dozens of Kurdish demonstrators burst into the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday to protest ISIS’ attack on Kobane.

Brandishing Kurdish flags and effigies of their jailed separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan, the men and women broke through a police barrier to enter the hall of the building, Agence France-Presse reported.

They staged a sit-in while several European members of parliament came to meet with them.

“We will fight Islamic State,” the head of the socialist group in parliament, Gianni Pittella, told the protesters, drawing applause.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said he met with the group’s leaders and told them to end their protest peacefully.

But he also told them he fully shared their concerns about the situation for civilians in Kobane as well as that more broadly in Syria and Iraq, and promised to convey their message to NATO.

“I reiterated the support of the European Parliament for the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq,” he said.

Kurds also continued their protests across France on Tuesday, including around 500 people who gathered outside the foreign ministry in Paris calling for “solidarity with the Kurdish resistance.”

“Our people are facing a massacre, a genocide. It is no longer time for debate, there must be a reaction now,” one of the organizers told the crowd.

ISIS pulls back from Kobane

In a new development, ISIS withdrew from some parts of the embattled Syrian town of Kobane overnight after air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition, a monitor said Wednesday.

Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said “fighters from the Islamic State withdrew overnight from several areas in the east of Ain al-Arab (Kobane) and the southwestern edges.”

After the pullback, the group’s fighters were present in eastern parts of the strategic town and its southern edges, but were no longer inside on the western front, Abdel Rahman said.

He said the move came after “their rear positions were hit in strikes, causing casualties and damaging at least four of their vehicles.”

ISIS fighters entered Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on Monday night, after nearly three weeks of fighting around the town on the Syria-Turkey border.