NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he speaks during a press conference before a Foreign Affairs meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 01, 2015. (AFP / JOHN THYS)
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NATO plans to send air defense support to Turkey partly to minimize the risk of Ankara shooting down another Russian warplane while assuaging its fears of a spillover from the conflict in Syria, senior alliance sources say.The mission, expected to be approved by the Western defense alliance's council on Friday, has been under preparation for 10 months, long before the incident with Russia, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said it is not linked.While the U.S.-led alliance publicly backed Turkey after its fighters downed a Russian bomber that strayed into its airspace from Syria on Nov. 24 in the first such incident since the Cold War, several allies were privately alarmed and urged restraint.A Turkish official in Ankara said Turkey and NATO were looking to develop a system whereby problems in Turkish and NATO airspace could be avoided but it was too early to share details.By sending some of NATO's fleet of mushroom-topped AWACS surveillance planes to patrol the airspace along Turkey's border with Syria, chiefly to coordinate several allied air forces operating out of Incirlik Air Base, NATO will help manage Turkish airspace.
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