Turkey Asks NATO For Missile Defense Against Syria
November 21, 2012
Turkey has asked NATO to deploy Patriot air-defense missiles on its territory.
The alliance said on November 21 that Ankara wanted its help in defending itself against any Syrian attacks.
In a statement, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance would discuss the request "without delay."
He said such a deployment "would augment Turkey's air-defense capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey."
Rasmussen added that it would "contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's southeastern border."
The request followed talks between Ankara and NATO allies about how to shore up security on the 900-kilometer-long border with Syria.
Last month, mortar rounds from Syria landed on Turkish territory, increasing concerns about the civil war spilling over from the neighboring country.
The Turkish government stressed that the deployment would be defensive only, and that it would in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.
In a statement on November 21, Turkey said that "in face of the threats and risks posed to our national security by the ongoing crisis in Syria, it has been decided to formally request from NATO that our national air defense be reinforced with the support of allied air defense elements."
Within the alliance, only the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands have Patriot missile systems in their arsenals.
The Dutch government already said it was considering sending Patriot missiles to Turkey.
In a statement Amsterdam said it "will take the request into consideration and examine the desirability and possibility of a contribution. Allied solidarity will be an important consideration."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he had told his country's ambassador to NATO to approve Turkey's request.
He said that "it would be a serious mistake if we were to refuse defensive support to a NATO member country in a moment when this member country feels that it is exposed to attacks from outside."
A NATO team is scheduled to visit Turkey next week to conduct a site survey for the possible deployment of Patriots.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and BBC
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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