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NATO picking missile defense sites
Turkey sought alliance’s help to deter possible attack by Syria
ANKARA, Turkey — A NATO team assessing possible sites for Patriot missiles to protect Turkey’s border with Syria inspected military installations Wednesday in southeast Turkey, the state-run news agency reported.
Syria is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.
The NATO team visited military facilities in Malatya province, some 124 miles from the Syrian border, the Anadolu Agency reported.
The province is already home to an early warning radar that is part of NATO’s missile defense system, which is capable of countering ballistic missile threats from Iran.
The visit came as the alliance said it would “favorably examine” Turkey’s request for the air defense missiles but was awaiting the team’s report on where to base them.
“This recommendation is a key element in the Council’s decision-making process,” Ms. Romero said, in reference to the North Atlantic Council, the alliance’s governing body that is made up of the ambassadors of all its 28 members.
Ms. Romero said “allies with available Patriots have also made clear their intention to augment Turkey’s defenses, subject to national processes.”
Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. have the advanced PAC-3 model Patriots that Turkey wants to intercept ballistic missiles.
Once NATO and the national parliaments in Germany and the Netherlands approve the deployment of the Patriots, it will probably take at least another month before they become operational.
Due to the complexity and size of the Patriot batteries — including their radars, command-and-control centers, communications and support facilities — they cannot be flown quickly by air to Turkey, and will probably have to travel by sea, officials said.
The deployment of the Patriots also is likely to be discussed at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Russia, meanwhile, has come out against the Patriot missile deployment, saying that basing the missiles so close to the border could worsen the bloodshed in Syria.
Syria is reported to have an array of artillery rockets, as well as short- and medium-range missiles — including Soviet-built SS-21 Scarabs and Scud-B missiles — in its arsenal. The latter are capable of carrying chemical warheads.
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