By Ata Ufuk Seker
BRUSSELS (AA) - Turkey has been affected by Daesh terrorism the most among NATO allies, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.
Addressing a press conference in Brussels before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on security challenges in Afghanistan, Middle East, North Africa and Russia, Stoltenberg said NATO stands in solidarity with Turkey.
We have increased our presence and continue to implement our assurances given to Turkey, he said, referring to the situation in Kilis province, which has been shelled by Daesh.
He said that the alliance’s AWACS surveillance aircraft were flying over Turkey, while the number of port visits, port calls of naval ships from NATO allied countries had increased.
"And therefore, everything we can do to support the efforts of the coalition fighting ISIL [Daesh] is important for Turkey," he added.
Turkish towns and provinces have been repeatedly struck by shell fire from across the frontier since mid-January.
In Kilis province alone, the local governor said 20 people have been killed and almost 70 others wounded by rockets which have fallen inside Turkish territory since attacks began earlier this year.
Kilis lies six kilometers (four miles) from the Syrian border.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus -- speaking on May 2 after a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- said that in the last three months 55 rockets had been fired by Daesh into Kilis.
The Turkish military has shelled Daesh positions in retaliation. On May 2, Turkish forces struck Daesh gun emplacements and ammunition dumps in the Suran, Arshak, Ikdakh and Ihtimalat regions on the Syrian side of the border, initially killing 50 terrorists. This figure later rose to 64.
*Anadolu Agency Correspondent Burcu Arik contributed to this report from Istanbul.