The NATO military alliance on Tuesday agreed to the deployment of Patriot missiles as requested by member Turkey to help defend its border against threats from Syria.
“NATO has agreed to augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities in order to defend the population and territory of Turkey and to contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the alliance's border,” AFP reported NATO’s statement.
Russia, Syria and Iran have criticized Turkey’s request to the alliance to send the Patriots which can be used to intercept missiles.
Turkey asked NATO for the missiles in November after weeks of talks with allies about how to shore up security on its 900-km (560-mile) border. It has repeatedly scrambled fighter jets along the frontier and responded in kind to stray Syrian shells flying into its territory.
A major player in supporting Syria’s opposition and planning for the post-conflict era, Turkey is worried about Syria’s chemical weapons, the refugee crisis along its border, and what it says is Syrian support for Kurdish militants on its own soil.
Concerns over Syria’s chemical arms
NATO allies also expressed “grave” concern on Tuesday about reports that the Syrian government may be preparing to use its chemical weapons, Reuters reported NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying.
“The NATO ministers unanimously expressed grave concern about reports that the Syrian regime may be considering the use of chemical weapons,” Rasmussen told a news conference. “Any such action would be completely unacceptable and a clear reach of international law.”