NATO to survey Patriot missile sites in Turkey



Ankara: NATO officials will start surveying sites along the Turkey-Syria border Tuesday for possible deployment of Patriot air defence systems, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement.

The NATO delegation includes 30 experts from the US, Germany and the Netherlands, all of whom have Patriots in their arsenals.

The Turkish General Staff said that the Patriot missile systems will not be used to establish a no-fly zone or to conduct offensive operations, but only "against an air or missile threat from Syria," the Hurriyet daily said, citing the statement.

"The regions the Patriot systems would be deployed to and the number of foreign personnel that will be assigned to them will be be based on the NATO delegation's site-survey," the statement said.

Turkey, a NATO member, has requested the deployment of Patriot missiles on its territory, saying the anti-missile system is necessary to protect its 900-km border with conflict-torn Syria.

Among the most possible sites for the Patriot deployment are Diyarbakir, Urfa and Malatya in southeastern Turkey.

Syria has condemned the Patriot missile plan in Turkey as "another act of provocation".

Russia has warned that the move could trigger a regional crisis. NATO maintained that the missiles would be placed for defensive purposes only.

IANS