The secretary general of the NATO has ruled out the possibility that the Western military alliance would help combat missions against Daesh if it joins the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that NATO members were discussing whether the organization should join the US-led coalition, but he insisted that the alliance would not participate in combat missions even if it agrees to be part of the drive.
Stoltenberg, who was briefing reporters in Brussels, said it was “absolutely out of the question for NATO to go into combat operations.”
He also noted that NATO members had yet to really reach an agreement to allow the alliance to join the coalition against Daesh even though all are individual members of the US-led campaign.
“No decision has been taken. The discussion is going on,” Stoltenberg said, reiterating that NATO would not bow to pressure by US President Donald Trump, who is seeking a greater role for NATO in the campaign against militants in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trump is expected to hold a meeting with allied counterparts in Brussels on May 25.
NATO currently provides training and aerial surveillance support to the so-called US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, while maintaining its military presence in Afghanistan nearly 16 years after it joined the invasion of the country.
Reports on Wednesday suggested that a top NATO general had recommended that the members accept Washington’s demand for joining the US-led coalition.
The coalition began carrying out airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq in 2014, after the terror group seized swathes of land in west and north of the Arab country. The US claims the coalition targets Daesh terrorists. However, the raids, which have done little to dislodge the terror group, have on numerous occasions claimed many civilian lives and inflicted damage on the country’s infrastructure.
The air campaign and ground operations were later expanded to cover Syria’s northeast, where Daesh holds territories and claims its self-styled rule, with Raqqah as its self-proclaimed capital.
Syria has repeatedly protested against the US-led intervention, saying it violates its sovereignty.