Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Turkey to get Nato defence missiles

A US soldier with a Patriot missile battery (AP)

Nato foreign ministers have agreed to give Turkey Patriot anti-missile systems to bolster its defence against possible strikes from neighbouring Syria.

Ankara, which has been highly supportive of the Syrian opposition to president Bashar Assad's regime, wants the Patriots to defend against possible retaliatory attacks by Syrian missiles carrying chemical warheads. Syria is reported to have an array of artillery rockets, as well as short- and medium-range missiles in its arsenal - some capable of carrying chemical warheads.

Nato leaders have repeatedly said they would provide any assistance Turkey needs.

They are expected to provide several batteries of the latest PAC-3 version of the US-built Patriot air defence systems which is optimised to intercept incoming missiles.

The exact details of the deployment and the number of batteries to be sent will be determined by Nato's military committee based on a report by a joint team that has been studying possible basing sites.

Parliaments in both Germany and the Netherlands must approve the move, which would also involve several hundred soldiers.

Nato foreign ministers will also meet their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Russia has criticised the planned deployment of the Patriots saying that it would further inflame tensions in the region.

US officials say the White House and its allies are weighing military options to secure Syria's chemical and biological weapons, after US intelligence reports showed the Syrian regime may be readying those weapons and may be desperate enough to use them.

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