Reuters 15:22, July 28, 2015
NATO backs Turkey's fight on Southern borders

NATO offered political support for Turkey's campaign against militants in Syria and Iraq at an emergency meeting on Tuesday, and President Tayyip Erdogan signaled the alliance may have a "duty" to become more involved.

Turkey requested urgent consultations with its 27 NATO allies in Brussels after stepping up its role in the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State with air strikes, also hitting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) camps in Iraq at the weekend.

"We stand in strong solidarity with our ally Turkey," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told alliance ambassadors at the start of a meeting he called right and timely "to address instability on Turkey's doorstep and on NATO's border".

In the run-up, both NATO and Turkey played down any idea that the military alliance might provide air or ground support for Turkey's dramatic change in strategy, but Erdogan suggested otherwise at a news conference before leaving for China.

Turkey had "come under attack", he said of a suspected Islamic State suicide bombing killed 32 mostly young students last week in the Turkish town of Suruc on the border with Syria.

NATO rules provide for mutual support if an ally comes under attack, although Turkey has not invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty which requires allied nations to consider military action.

"If a NATO member country comes under attack, NATO would support it in every way," Erdogan said.

"At the moment, Turkey has come under attack and is exercising its right to defend itself and will exercise this right until the end... but what we're saying is that there could be a duty for NATO, and we ask NATO to be prepared for this."

The meeting of ambassadors was held under Article 4 of the treaty, which permits a member of the alliance to ask for consultations with other allies when it feels its security is threatened.

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