By Kristina Wong - 06/30/14 04:39 PM EDT
The commander of U.S. and allied forces in Europe said he is worried about al Qaeda affiliated fighters with Western passports returning home to stage attacks.
“That is a great concern to me, and it's a great concern to our European partners,” Air Force Gen. Phil Breedlove told Pentagon reporters Monday.
“The flow from Western Iraq and Eastern Syria into Europe is a very distinct problem, and we are working to address that flow,” he said.
“So what does this tell us? Foreign fighters can return to these nations. They can effect an attack or — or some sort of problem for that nation and then move quickly across borders into other nations,” he said.
“I think this worries all of the nations of Europe about the capability of these foreign fighters returning,” he said.
Breedlove said he was worried about foreign fighters staging attacks in Syria’s neighbor of Turkey, a NATO ally that the U.S. is contractually obligated to defend.
“This is an ally that, if we have to, we will defend. That has been stated very clearly,” he said.
“And so we're concerned about all of the operations by all of the players on the south side of that border that would cause anything to cross it or increase the flow of foreign fighters or any of the things that could affect us in Europe.”