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NATO Confirms Turkish Missile Request
NATO on Wednesday confirmed that Turkey had asked for Patriot air-defense batteries to be placed near the nation's border with war-wracked Syria, the Associated Press reported.
The request had been expected for weeks after Syrian munitions began falling onto Turkish territory. An Oct. 3 incident killed five people, including three children.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday said an agreement had been reached for deployment of the Patriots.
"Allies will discuss this without delay," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated on Twitter. In another message on Wednesday, the alliance chief said the missiles would aid Turkey's ability to deal with airborne threats and "would contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's southeastern border."
The 28-nation North Atlantic Council must sign off on the deployment. There is little chance it would do otherwise, as NATO has previously declared its intention to defend member state Turkey from the Syrian conflict.
Delegates from council nations are due for unofficial discussions on Wednesday.
The alliance expects to send officials to Turkey next week to examine potential locations for the Patriots, Fogh Rasmussen said. He reaffirmed that the weapons would not be used to establish a no-fly zone within Syria, as has been sought by rebels fighting to oust the Assad regime.
Ankara 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."
Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are the three sole NATO states armed with Patriot systems. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he advised Berlin's top envoy in Ankara "to receive positively such a request."
"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," Westerwelle said.
The Netherlands will "consider the request and investigate the desirability and possibility of contributing," according to remarks released by Amsterdam. "Alliance solidarity plays an important role in the decision."
Patriot missiles have previously been sent to Turkey amid the 1991 and 2003 wars with Iraq. None were fired in those cases. Different forms of the system can be used against enemy airplanes, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles of up to midrange, AP reported.
Turkey today largely relies on limited-distance Rapier and Stinger missiles, along with farther-flying Hawk weapons, to deal with airborne threats.
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