NATO mulls Patriots for Turkish defense

Nov. 27, 2012 at 9:54 AM

BRUSSELS, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A decision on which country would supply Turkey with the Patriot missile system to defend its border with Syria is up to allied governments, NATO said.

The Turkish government last week issued a formal request to NATO for the Patriot missile system to defend its 560-mile with Syria. Turkish forces have returned fire after Syrian artillery strayed across the border several times this year.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said allies were discussing Turkey's request for the missile defense without delay.

"It is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots -- Germany, the Netherlands and the United States -- to decide if they can provide them for deployment in Turkey and for how long," Rasmussen said in a statement. "Next week a joint team will visit Turkey to conduct a site-survey for the possible deployment of Patriots."

Rasmussen discussed Turkey's security concerns last week with European foreign and defense ministers. There are no plans, he said, to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.

Patriot missiles sent to Turkey during conflicts in Iraq were delivered by the Netherlands. Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman said Ankara has twice invoked Article 4 of the NATO charter this year in response to security threats from the Syrian civil war.

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