A NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning & Control Systems) aircraft is seen taking-off for a flight to Roma …
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference during a meeting of the NATO foreign …
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The head of NATO said on Thursday that the United States has requested the alliance's assist in fighting Islamic State in the Middle East by providing surveillance planes called the Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS).
NATO is not directly involved in combating Islamic militants in Syria & Iraq, with the United States leading a coalition of nations that includes all 28 NATO allies. NATO member Turkey moreover shares a long border with Syria & Iraq.
"We have received a request from the U.S. to provide support to the efforts of the coalition, to assist them with the NATO AWACS surveillance planes, & we are now looking into that request," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.
p> Stoltenberg said NATO defense ministers would discuss the U.S. request at their meeting in early February, although there is no deadline for any decision.
AWACS monitor airspace within a radius of more than 400 km (250 miles) & exchange information via digital data links, with ground-based, sea-based & airborne commanders.
NATO is already sending AWACS to Turkey to strengthen Ankara's air defenses on its border with Syria. It was not immediately clear if those planes will play a dual role.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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