Obama: 'I want to be very clear: Turkey is a NATO ally.'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Barack Obama (R) greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to a meeting at the US Chief of Mission’s residence in Paris on December 1, 2015. (AFP photo)

US President Barack Obama says everyone should know that Turkey is a member of the NATO military alliance, after Ankara shot down a Russian jet in Syria.

Obama made the remarks after holding a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a climate summit at Le Bourget on the outskirts of Paris on Tuesday.

"I want to be very clear: Turkey is a NATO ally. The US supports Turkish rights to defend itself and its airspace and its territory," Obama said, referring to Article Five of the NATO treaty which “states that an attack on one ally shall be considered an attack on all allies.”

"We all have a common enemy and that is ISIL and I want to make sure we focus on that threat," Obama said, using an acronym for the Daesh terrorist group.

Article Four of the NATO treaty calls for consultation over military matters when "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened"

Invoking Article Four, NATO countries met last week after Turkey brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer jet, claiming the aircraft had repeatedly violated its air space. However, Article Five was not invoked during that meeting.

One of the Russian pilots was killed by militants after parachuting from the burning jet in Syria, while the second was saved by Syrian forces. One Russian soldier lost his life during the rescue operation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the aircraft had been attacked when it was 1 kilometer inside Syria. He warned of "serious consequences" and called it a “stab in the back” administered by "the accomplices of terrorists."

Russia has been conducting airstrikes on Daesh (ISIL) positions at the request of the Syrian government since September 30.

Following the loss of its fighter plane and two lives, Russia announced that it was sending S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Latakia in northwestern Syria. The S-400 has a range of about 400 kilometers and can destroy tactical and strategic aircraft as well as ballistic and cruise missiles.

On Monday, Obama held a closed-door meeting with Putin in France, urging him to de-escalate tensions with Turkey.

Obama also called on Putin to focus Russia's air campaign in Syria against Daesh terrorists and not target Western-backed militants, according to the White House official.

The United States and its regional allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have been backing militants fighting against the Syrian government.

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