Turkey agrees Syria missile defense with NATO members

Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:54am EST
 

ANKARA (Reuters) - NATO member states have agreed to supply Turkey with an advanced Patriot missile system to defend against Syrian attacks and talks on its deployment are in the final stage, Turkey's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Turkey has been talking to NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 900-km (560-mile) frontier with Syria after mortar rounds landed inside its territory, increasing concerns about the civil war spilling into neighboring states.

"The countries who supply NATO with Patriot systems are known, we have reached an agreement with those countries. The official application will be completed as soon as possible," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference.

"Intensive work is underway and the talks have reached the final stage," he said in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Only the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have the appropriate Patriot missile system available. Germany has said it would analyze such a request "with solidarity".

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters on Monday that any missile deployment would be a defensive measure to counter mortar rounds, not to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been able to take large swathes of land but are almost defenseless against Syria's air force. The rebels have called for an internationally enforced no-fly zone, a measure that helped Libyan rebels overthrow their long-term leader last year.

(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

 
An armed Turkish policeman (C) guards men from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as they wait to be transported to a refugee camp, in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province November 20, 2012. The Syrians crossed the border into Turkey without any passports or other identification. NATO member states have agreed to supply Turkey with an advanced Patriot missile system to defend against Syrian attacks and talks on its deployment are in the final stage, Turkey's foreign minister said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh