Syria: Turkey's bid for NATO missiles 'provocative'

Damascus denounces Ankara's request for Patriot interceptors on border; Turkey blames Syria's disregard for "any rules of war."

By REUTERS
November 23, 2012 19:22
3 minute read.
Patriot anti-missile battery site

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

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

BEIRUT - Syria on Friday condemned Turkey's request for NATO to deploy Patriot defense missiles near their common border, calling it "provocative," after a spate of fighting there that has raised fears of the Syrian civil war embroiling the wider region.

In the first Syrian response to Ankara's request earlier this week, a ministry source told Syrian state television that Damascus would hold Turkey's prime minister responsible for increasing tensions along the frontier.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The 20-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad has grown increasingly bloody and heavy clashes often erupt right along Syria's northern border with Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly scrambled fighter jets and responded in kind to stray shells flying into its territory.

Turkey's missile request may have riled Damascus and its allies because it could be seen as a first step toward implementing a no-fly zone. Syrian rebels have been requesting one to help them hold territory against a government with overwhelming firepower from the air, but which most foreign governments are loath to impose for fear of getting sucked into the conflict.

The Patriot system is designed to intercept aircraft or missiles. Turkey asked for its deployment after weeks of talks with its NATO allies about how to shore up its 900-km border, where it fears security may deteriorate as the Syrian army steps up fighting against rebel advances.

"Syria stresses its condemnation of the Turkish government's latest provocative step," the ministry source told Syria TV.

The source said that Syria would respect Turkish sovereignty but also said that it "holds (Tayyip) Erdogan responsible for the militarization of the situation on the Syrian-Turkish border and increased tensions".



Click for full JPost coverage

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday that the possible deployment of Patriot missiles was "purely defensive" and would "serve as a deterrent to possible enemies even thinking of attacks."

The US-led Western alliance has had some talks on the Turkish request but no decision is expected before next week.

Turkey rejects Syrian criticism


Asked about Syria's remarks, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Damascus was at fault for heightened tensions by having attacked its own people with tanks and warplanes "without any regard for any rules of war".

"There exists such a situation now right next to Turkey, that (Turkey) has to take its own measures...aimed at defense.

"If this measure is not needed then it will not be used, but if there is any kind of risk to Turkey's security, all kinds of steps will be taken, both within Turkey's national capacity and within the framework of Turkey's membership of NATO. Nobody should have a need to question this," Davutoglu added.

Russia, an ally of Assad and Syria's main arms supplier, has opposed the deployment of surface-to-air missiles. It is not a NATO member and cannot block alliance decisions, but planned talks with NATO on Friday about a move it argues "would not foster stability in the region."

Analysts Michael Stephens of the RUSI think-tank in Doha said Turkey's request was a symbolic gesture. He said the Patriot system would do little to stop incoming mortars.

"It could be a first step to a no-fly zone, but what does that take? NATO would need a mandate, which means a United Nations Security Council resolution, and Russia will obviously say no to that," said Stephens.

"This eases the pressure on Erdogan, who may be reluctant to further disrupt the (regional) balance of power. If the missiles are there, it takes the decision out of his hands and puts it on NATO."

Related Content

A Syrian soldier is seen standing in the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in Deraa, Syria July 7, 2
August 15, 2018
Jordan vows to eradicate terrorism after deadly standoff

By TERRANCE J. MINTNER & DIMA ABUMARIA/THE MEDIA LINE