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NATO Approves Turkey's Request For Patriot Defense Missiles

An Israeli army Patriot missile battery is deployed at an unidentified base in central Israel.
Shaul Schwarz
Getty Images
An Israeli army Patriot missile battery is deployed at an unidentified base in central Israel.

NATO has announced that it will deploy Patriot defense missiles that Turkey had requested to protect itself against attacks from Syria that have so far killed five Turks.

The AP reports that NATO said the missiles, as well as the radar system, will only be used for defensive purposes — that is, they will only be used to intercept mortars once they have crossed into Turkish territory.

The AP adds:

"'We stand with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity,' NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters. 'To anyone who would want to attack Turkey, we say, "Don't even think about it!"'

"Fogh Rasmussen stressed that the deployment of the Patriot systems — which includes missiles, radar and other elements — would in no way support a no-fly zone over parts of Syria nor aid any offensive operation against the Arab state.

"But the decision to deploy the systems takes the United States and its European partners closer to the war, with the possibility of U.S.-made and alliance-operated hardware being used against the Assad regime for the first time."

Russia, who is Syria's biggest ally, has spoken against the deployment of the system.

"Creating additional capabilities on the border does not defuse the situation but on the contrary exacerbates it," Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to The Telegraph.

The announcement comes a day after President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned the regime of Bashar Assad that if he uses chemical weapons against his own people, the United States will act.

The American government's Radio Free Europe reports the deployment is expected "within weeks."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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