DUBAI - Iran said the deployment of Patriot defense missiles near Turkey's border with Syria would worsen tensions, as fears grow of the Syrian civil war spilling across the region.

Turkey asked NATO for the Patriot system, designed to intercept aircraft or missiles, last week after talks about how to shore up security on its 900-km (560-mile) border.

"The installation of such systems in the region has negative effects and will intensify problems in the region," Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said on returning from a trip to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey on Saturday evening, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, told the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) on Sunday that deploying the Patriot system "will not only not help solve the situation in Syria, it will actually make the situation more difficult and complicated as well".

Syria has called Turkey's request for the Patriot missiles "provocative", and Russia said the move could increase risks in the conflict.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

Iran has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the 20-month-old uprising against his rule.

Turkey's missile request may have riled Damascus because it could be seen as a first step toward implementing a no-fly zone over Syrian airspace.

Syrian rebels have been requesting a no-fly zone to help them hold territory against a government with overwhelming firepower from the air, but most foreign governments are reluctant to get sucked into the conflict.

Turkey fears security on its border may crumble as the Syrian army fights harder to contain the rebels, some of whom have enjoyed sanctuary in Turkey.

Heavy fighting has often erupted along Syria's border with Turkey. Ankara has scrambled fighter jets and returned fire after stray Syrian shells and mortars landed in its territory.

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