BRUSSELS — The NATO military alliance agreed Dec. 4 to deploy Patriot missiles along member state Turkey’s border as requested by Ankara to help it defend its territory 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,” a statement said.
Turkey formally asked its NATO partners to deploy the U.S.-made anti-missile system after a series of cross-border shellings, including one that left five civilians dead on Oct. 3.
“We say to anyone who would want to attack Turkey: Don’t even think about it,” said NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announcing the decision taken by the 28-member alliance.
Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have agreed to provide the Patriot missile batteries, which would come under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the NATO statement said.
Stressing that the Patriot system was purely defensive, Rasmussen said technical discussions would now follow about how many of the U.S.-made missiles would be deployed and where.
The discussions at NATO came amid reports that Syria is moving chemical weapons, as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad fights rebels seeking to oust him.
“NATO members expressed grave concerns about reports that the Syrian regime is considering the use of chemical weapons. Any such action would be completely unacceptable and a clear breach of international law,” Rasmussen said.