Turkey and NATO should stay out of Syria conflict: Iraq PM

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned Turkey and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against military intervention in Syria.

The premier made the remarks during his ongoing visit to Russia on Wednesday.

Al-Maliki accused Ankara of trying to draw the Western military alliance into the conflict in the neighboring Syria, noting that NATO should not interfere in the unrest in Syria under the pretext of defending Turkey.

The Iraqi premier strongly criticized Ankara’s version of attacks from Syria on Turkish soil, saying “Stories about how Syrian airplanes have dropped bombs on Turkish territory are great exaggerations.”

“There is no need to incite a war and draw in an entire organization like NATO to defend Turkey. Nothing is threatening Turkey,” he emphasized.

Maliki also criticized Ankara’s “impertinent behavior” regarding the Syrian conflict, saying “One might say, [Turkey is] acting as if it is responsible all by itself for the resolution of problems in Syria, instead of the Syrian people.”

His comments also came in reaction to NATO Secretary-General Andres Fogh Rasmussen who said that the Western military alliance was prepared to defend Turkey against Syria.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military chief has said that his country will respond even more strongly if any future shells fall on Turkish soil.

Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus blaming Turkey — along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar — for backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence, but the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in August that the country is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

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