ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The NATO alliance has drawn up a strategy to defend Turkey if it is attacked along its border with Syria, a Turkish official said Monday.
Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, whose country is a NATO member, said the alliance did that at his government's request as Islamic State militants, who have captured a large swath of Iraq and Syria, are trying to take the Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border.
"If there is an attack, NATO's joint defense mechanisms will be activated," Yilmaz told reporters. "From the moment the incidents relating to Syria first started, we asked NATO to prepare for possibilities to make plans. NATO prepared a plan taking various alternatives into account."
"Therefore," he said, "if there is an attack on Turkey, NATO will bring about the provisions of Article 5 of the Washington Convention." Article 5 states that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all members.
NATO's new secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, appeared to confirm what Turkey was saying during a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday.
After expressing concern about the violence in Syria and the fact that it has spilled over into Iraq, he said: "The main responsibility for NATO is to protect all allied countries. Turkey is a NATO ally and our main responsibility is to protect the integrity, the borders of Turkey, and that's the reason why we have deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey to enhance, to strengthen their air defense of Turkey. And Turkey should know that NATO will be there if there is any spillover, any attacks on Turkey as a consequence of the violence we see in Syria."
Kurdish forces are defending Kobani, but two banners of the Islamic State group were raised over a building and a nearby hill on Monday, suggesting that the militants may have broken through the Kurdish perimeter.
AP correspondents Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and John-Thor Dahlburg in Brussels contributed.