Turkey to request NATO missiles for Syrian border

Monday 19 November 2012 17.21
Turkey has been strengthening its border defences
Turkey has been strengthening its border defences

Turkey is expected to formally request that NATO missiles be placed on its border with Syria to defend against mortar rounds, Western defence officials said.

Only the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have the appropriate Patriot missile system available, and Germany would analyse such a request "with solidarity", German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

NATO has not yet received a request but will consider it "as a matter of urgency", Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters as he arrived at a meeting of EU defence ministers.

"Turkey can count on allied solidarity," he said, while emphasising that the missiles would only be to counter mortar rounds, not to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

"We are not speaking about a no-fly zone. If we are to deploy patriot missiles it would be a purely defensive measure to defend and protect Turkey."

The alliance has deployed Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Turkey twice before, once in 1991 and later in 2003, during both Gulf Wars. Those missiles were provided by the Netherlands.

Mr De Maiziere said the German response would depend on the details of any request.

"But if we have a deployment of Patriots on the Turkish border then this will happen with German soldiers."

Turkey is talking to NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 900km frontier with Syria after mortar rounds fired from Syria landed inside its territory, increasing concerns about spill-over from the civil war from its neighbour.

The Dutch defence minister said the Netherlands too was waiting for a Turkish request.

"We did not receive a formal request yet," Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told reporters in Brussels. "We are waiting for a formal request."

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use