BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen played down the risk on Monday of a military confrontation between Turkey and Syria and said Ankara was justified in beefing up its defenses along the Syrian border.

NATO member Turkey has strengthened its troop presence and air defenses along its southern border since Syria shot down one of its jets on June 22, heightening tensions between the neighbors caused by an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Asked if he was concerned about Turkey's military buildup and whether there was a risk it could lead to a confrontation with Syria, Rasmussen told a news conference: "no, on the contrary. I commend Turkey for having shown restraint despite the very tragic aircraft incident."

"I find it quite normal that Turkey takes necessary steps to protect its population and its territory," he said.

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