NATO chief says Russian strikes damaging Syrian peace talks

NATO Secretary General Rasmussen says Russian air strikes damaging Syrian peace talks in Geneva

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a news conference ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on November 30, 2015.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that Russia’s intensification of air strikes in Syria was damaging the peace talks in Geneva aimed at bringing an end to civil war in Syria.

"What you have seen is that the intense Russian air strikes, mainly targeting opposition groups in Syria, is undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict. Moreover, the increased Russian presence, air activity in Syria, is also causing increased tensions and violations of Turkish airspace," Stoltenberg told reporters as he arrived for a European Union defence ministers meeting in Amsterdam.

"This creates risks," he added.

In recent days Syrian regime forces and their allies made advances backed by Russian assaults against the opposition in the northern province of Aleppo.

Stoltenberg also said that the alliance was following developments in Libya over concerns that DAESH terrorists, who are controlling large swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq, are spreading into other countries, notably Libya.

"We are following very closely the developments also in Libya, and this just underlines the importance of fully support(ing) the efforts to try to find a political solution, to reach a ceasefire and to have an agreement on a unity government in Libya," Stoltenberg said.

DAESH attacked oil infrastructure in Libya and set up a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a power vacuum in the North African country where two rival governments have been fighting for supremacy.

According to a plan backed by the United Nations for a political transition, Libya’s two warring administrations are expected to form a unity government. However, a month after they reached a deal in Morocco, its implementation failed due to in-fighting.

Defence ministers gathering at the Dutch National Maritime Museum will meet jointly with foreign ministers on Friday to discuss EU foreign and security policy.

TRTWorld and agencies