NATO okays Turkey missile defense against Syria

Talks on deploying advanced Patriot missile system to contain spillover from Syria are in final stages.

By REUTERS
November 20, 2012 11:51
1 minute read.
Patriot anti-missile battery site

Patriot anti-missile battery 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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ANKARA - NATO member states have agreed to supply Turkey with an advanced Patriot missile system to defend against Syrian attacks and talks on its deployment are in the final stage, Turkey's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Turkey has been talking to NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 900-km (560-mile) frontier with Syria after mortar rounds landed inside its territory, increasing concerns about the civil war spilling into neighboring states.

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"The countries who supply NATO with Patriot systems are known, we have reached an agreement with those countries. The official application will be completed as soon as possible," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference.

"Intensive work is underway and the talks have reached the final stage," he said in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Only the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have the appropriate Patriot missile system available. Germany has said it would analyze such a request "with solidarity".

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters on Monday that any missile deployment would be a defensive measure to counter mortar rounds, not to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

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Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's forces have been able to take large swathes of land but are almost defenseless against Syria's air force. The rebels have called for an internationally enforced no-fly zone, a measure that helped Libyan rebels overthrow their long-term leader last year.

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