NATO ruled out sending ground troops to fight against DAESH in Syria but plans a key role in the fight against terrorism, Chief of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said to the daily Swiss Tages-Anzeiger on Sunday.
He stated that dispatching ground forces to accompany air strikes was not on the agenda of NATO allies and the coalition.
US President Barack Obama announced last week the decision of the US to send more special forces to combat DAESH stating that it wasn’t an indication of an Iraq-style invasion.
Stoltenberg stressed that NATO allies were already participating in the coalition against DAESH when NATO’s decision of not having direct involvement was asked to him.
“In addition, we are focusing on reinforcing the capacities of countries to defend themselves. We help build defense capabilities, with education and special operation forces,” he said.
He also highlighted that the war of the West was against extremism and terrorism rather than the Islamic world.
"Muslims are on the front line in this war. Most victims are Muslims, and most of those who fight against the IS [DAESH) are Muslims," Stoltenberg.
"We can not carry on this struggle for them," he said and urged Russia, which has been carrying out air strikes since September in Syria to focus on DAESH and have a “more constructive role in the fight” against DAESH.
“So far, Russia has attacked other groups and focused on supporting the regime of Assad.”
He also pointed out that Russia has never been isolated by NATO and its attendance in Vienna peace talks on Syria was welcomed.
However, he said the Russian-Ukranian conflict was some other topic that NATO had to keep focus on as well as Russian air violations in Turkey.
Over the Russian jet downed by Turkey he said that Turkey had the right to protect its territorial integrity and defend its airspace because among the NATO allies, Turkey is the most affected by the crisis in the Middle East.
"Now it is important to de-escalate and to develop mechanisms to prevent similar incidents in the future. We see a significant build-up of the Russian military presence from the far north to the Mediterranean," he said.
"There, too, we need to avoid similar incidents such as in Turkey."
In early December, NATO announced a defence plan for Turkey to improve the air defence system in the aftermath of the Russian fighter jet being downed by Turkey over an airspace violation in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border.
It was also underlined that the plan to strengthen Turkey’s air defences was not related to the downed jet, rather it was something which has been going on for several years as NATO does its part for long term commitment to an ally, Turkey.