Turkey Will Seek NATO Patriot Missiles As Soon As Possible
Nov. 20, 2012 - 08:18AM by AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
ANKARA — Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Nov. 20 that NATO
member Ankara would formally ask the alliance for Patriot missiles to
protect its border with conflict-wracked Syria.
“(Patriots) are a precautionary measure, for defence in particular,”
Davutoglu told reporters before he left Ankara for Gaza. “We will submit the
formal request as soon as possible.”
Davutoglu’s comments came a day after NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said
the alliance had received no formal request from Turkey for the
surface-to-air missiles, but that it would consider the matter with
“urgency” if a request was made.
Davutoglu did not elaborate on the details of the Patriot deployment but
said Ankara was “in the last phase of talks” before the request went
Turkey’s border villages have been hit by artillery fire from Syria as
forces loyal to Damascus battle rebels seeking to oust President Bashar
“It is the very mission of NATO to supply the security of its members, when
one of them is threatened by this level of border violations and faced with
even further risks, like ballistic missiles,” Davutoglu said.
Ankara has been strengthening its defenses along the border with
anti-aircraft batteries and tanks since June 22, when one of its F4 fighter
jets was downed by Syria along with two pilots for a brief violation of
Turkey’s ties with its former ally Syria hit a new low Oct. 3, when Syrian
shells fired across the border killed five Turkish civilians, three of them
The Turkish military has since been firing mortars into Syria to reciprocate
every Syrian shell falling on its territory.
Ankara has already asked NATO to take measures to protect its border and
contain the Syrian conflict, which has killed some 37,000 people in 20
months and sent more than 120,000 refugees into Turkey.
But its pleas to set up a safe haven inside Syria for people fleeing the
conflict fell on deaf ears at a U.N. Security Council meeting in August.
Turkish media have speculated the Patriot system could be used to create a
de facto safe zone in northern Syria without backup from ground troops.
Rasmussen said, however, there was currently no question of imposing a
no-fly zone with the back-up of the Patriot missiles, which are capable of
intercepting both aircraft and missiles.
Germany and The Netherlands are the two main European nations that possess
Patriots, medium-range ground-to-air missiles made by U.S. group Raytheon.
NATO deployed the missiles in Turkey during the 1991 Gulf war and in 2003
during the Iraqi conflict.
The Patriots will play a vital role for Turkey, which seeks to beef up its
air defense systems, according to officials in Ankara.