ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A NATO team assessing sites for the possible deployment of Patriot missiles to protect Turkey’s border with Syria on Wednesday inspected military installations in a province in southeastern Turkey, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
NATO member Turkey asked allies to deploy the missiles as a defense against any aerial attack from Syria, after mortar rounds and shells from Syria struck Turkish territory, killing five people. Syria is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.
The team that is selecting sites for the air defense batteries visited military facilities in Malatya province, some 200 kilometers (124.28 miles) from the Syrian border, the Anadolu Agency reported. The province is already home to an early warning radar that is part of NATO missile defense system 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 waiting the team’s report on where to base them.
NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said the team was expected to finish its work in the next few days and would feed its proposals to NATO’s military authorities.
“This recommendation is a key element in element in the Council’s decision-making process,” she said, in reference to the North Atlantic Council which is comprised of the ambassadors of all 28 members and is the military alliance’s governing body.
Romero said that “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 for intercepting ballistic missiles.
The deployment of the Patriots is also likely to be discussed at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Russia has come out against it, saying that basing the missiles so close to the border could worsen the bloodshed in Syria.
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