BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey insists Patriots would be 'purely defensive'

  • turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a news conference with his Algerian counterpart Mourad Medelci in Algiers November 25, 2012. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

 

ANKARA: The Turkish army insisted Monday that any deployment by NATO of Patriot missiles on the border with Syria would be used for defensive purposes only and not to launch any attack, after Damascus warned that the move would be a "provocation".
 
"The system is a purely defensive measure, against possible air and missile threats from Syria," the army command said in a statement.
The US-made anti-aircraft and anti-missile system would not be used for the creation of a "no-fly zone" over Syria, or to "launch an attack", it added.
 
Turkey last week asked its partners in NATO to deploy the Patriot missiles on the border with Syria, after a series of cross-border shellings, including an attack that left five civilians dead.
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Friday that such a deployment could spark a "very serious armed conflict" involving NATO.
 
However NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Lavrov that any deployment "would in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operations", according to a spokesman for the alliance.
 
Tehran also warned that the deployment of missiles "will aggravate and complicate" the 20-month conflict in Syria.
 
NATO is expected soon to respond to the Turkish request which was formally submitted last Wednesday and a team of experts is expected to meet Turkish military officials on Monday to launch a site survey to determine possible locations for the missiles.
 
Turkey might receive up to six batteries and some 300 foreign troops to operate the system, which is expected to be supplied by the Netherlands or Germany, the two European providers of the US-made Patriots.
 
Ankara, a one-time Damascus ally, has become a staunch opponent of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad over the conflict that has now killed over 40,000 people and sent more than 120,000 refugees into Turkey.

 
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