Missile deployment at border purely defensive: Turkey

Ankara, Nov 24: Turkey has said the possible deployment of NATO missiles along Turkey’s southern border with Syria has defensive purpose only.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters Friday that the missile system was aimed at no goal other than defence.

“Escalation of tensions in Syria has forced us to consider any contingency. The important thing is the security of our country and our people. The issue is about defending NATO’s frontiers,” Davutoglu told reporters in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

On Wednesday, Turkey formally requested NATO for the deployment of Patriot missiles along the Syrian border which saw an escalation of tensions between the two neighbours after a Syrian shell landed in Turkey, killing five people.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO would discuss Turkey’s request without delay.

“If approved, the deployment would be undertaken in accordance with NATO’s standing air defence plan. It is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots,” Rasmussen said.

NATO has installed anti−aircraft batteries in Turkey twice before, during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. But they were never used and removed a few months later.

The US, Germany and The Netherlands are the only NATO members to have Patriot missiles in their arsenals.

IANS