NATO envoys to meet to discuss Syria at Turkey's request

FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a panel discussion at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany February 15, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

ANKARA (Reuters) - NATO ambassadors will meet in Brussels at Turkey’s request on Friday to hold consultations about developments in Syria, the alliance said after the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in a Syrian air strike in the Idlib region.

“The North Atlantic Council, which includes the ambassadors of all 29 NATO Allies, will meet on Friday 28 February, following a request by Turkey to hold consultations under article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty on the situation in Syria,” NATO said in a statement.

Under article 4 of the Treaty, any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.

A NATO official said the alliance ambassadors would meet at around 10 a.m. (0900 GMT).

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by phone late on Thursday.

NATO said that Stoltenberg would hold a news conference at around 11:45 a.m. (1045 GMT) after the envoys’ meeting.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara would no longer stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe.

The pro-government Demiroren news agency reported that some 300 migrants, including women and children, were walking northwest toward Turkey’s border with Greece.

The threat to open the way for refugees to Europe would, if executed, reverse a pledge Turkey made to the European Union in 2016 and could quickly draw Western powers into the standoff over Idlib and stalled negotiations between Ankara and Moscow.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and by John Chalmers in Brussels