BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO announced Tuesday that it will deploy Patriot anti-missile systems near Turkey’s southern border, shoring up defenses against the threat of cross-border attacks and bringing the United States and its allies closer to the civil war raging between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The alliance’s 28 members decided to limit use of Patriots solely for the defensive purpose of warding off the mortar rounds and shells from Syria that have killed five Turks. But the announcement also appeared to be a message to the Assad regime at a time when Washington and other governments fear it may be readying its chemical weapons stockpiles for possible use.
“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.
Full article: NATO backs Patriot anti-missile system for Turkey (USA Today)