Turkey fears Syria chemical weapons, seeks Nato missiles

Last Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 13:25

London: Turkey has requested NATO to deploy Patriot missile defences on its territory.

The country requested for protection after receiving intelligence that the Syrian Government was contemplating the use of missiles, possibly chemical warheads.

The officials said they had credible evidence that if the Syrian Government’s aerial bombardment against opposition-held areas failed to hold the rebels back, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime might resort to missiles and chemical weapons in as the last effort to survive.

According to the Guardian, the Turks believe that the regime’s Soviet-era Scuds and North Korean SS-21 missiles would be aimed principally at opposition areas.

They, however, also said that the missiles could easily wander away across the border, as Syrian army artillery shells and mortars have done.

A missile, especially with a chemical warhead, would represent a far greater threat to Turkish border communities, so Ankara decided last month to ask NATO to supply Patriot missile defence systems, which can spot an incoming missile and intercept it, the report said.

"We have intelligence from different sources that the Syrians will use ballistic missiles and chemical warheads," a senior Turkish official said.

"First they sent the infantry in against the rebels and they lost a lot of men, and many changed sides. Then they sent in the tanks, and they were taken out by anti-tank missiles. So now it``s air power. If that fails it will be missiles, perhaps with chemical warheads. That is why we asked Nato for protection," the official added.

According to the report, the New York Times had reported that western intelligence officials had spotted new signs of activity around Syrian military sites where chemical weapons are stored.

The Syrian regime is believed to have stocks of mustard gas, sarin nerve gas and possibly VX, another nerve agent.

Western governments have warned Assad that any use of these weapons would trigger direct military intervention against him, the report said.

So far, western officials have said that there are no signs of the regime taking the final steps of preparing chemical artillery shells, missiles or aircraft bombs for use, the report added.

The deployment of Dutch and German Patriot systems is due to be voted on by those countries’ parliaments this week, and Turkish diplomats expect it to be approved, the report added.

PTI



First Published: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 12:23

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