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NATO's Patriot missiles at border merely defensive: Turkish military

11-26-2012 19:33 BJT

ANKARA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The deployment of NATO's Patriot missile system on the Turkish border with Syria is merely a defensive measure against threats from Syria, a Turkish military statement said Monday.

A delegation of Turkish and NATO officials will start a site survey Tuesday for the deployment of the missile defense system, a written statement released by the Turkish General Staff said.

The system was not for "no-fly zone or offensive operation," but "solely against air or missile threats that could be derived from Syria," said the statement.

NATO is carrying out its work for command and rules of engagement and integration of Patriots with Turkish air defense system, the statement noted.

Foreign soldiers that would come to Turkey to operate the system would be assigned under the framework of a memorandum of understanding in accordance to Turkey's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO, the statement said.

The spots where the missiles would be deployed and the number of foreign personnel that would come to Turkey will be determined after the delegation's site survey, said the statement.

On Wednesday, Turkey placed a formal request to NATO for the deployment of Patriot missiles along the border with Syria, which has seen an escalation of tensions between the two neighbors after a stray Syrian shell landed in Turkey, killing five people.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO would discuss Turkey's request without delay, and a technical team from NATO is expected to visit Turkey on the possibility of the deployment.

"If it's approved, the deployment will be undertaken in accordance with NATO's standing air defense plan. It is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots," Rasmussen said.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands are the only NATO members that have Patriot missiles in their arsenals.

NATO has installed anti-aircraft batteries in Turkey twice, during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. The batteries were never used and were removed a few months later.


Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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