NATO has confirmed that it received a request from Ankara to deploy Patriot missiles on Turkish territory. The coalition said it would process the appeal soon.“I have received Turkey's request for NATO to deploy Patriot missiles. Allies will discuss this without delay,”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said via his Twitter account.
"The situation along the Syrian-Turkish border is of great concern," Rasmussen said earlier at a meeting with the European Union's foreign and defense ministers. "We have all plans in place to defend and protect Turkey if needed."
The confirmation comes two weeks after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that he had requested that NATO install the surface-to-air missiles near the Turkish border with Syria. Prime Minster Recip Tayyip Erdogan later denied that Turkey had made such a request.
Davutoglu said that the missiles were needed to bolster defenses on its border with Syria. The surface-to-air missiles will be able to shoot down aircraft up to 160 kilometers away.
The Patriot is a long-range, all-weather and all-altitude defense system capable of countering tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
Within NATO only the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have Patriot missile systems available.
Reports say Germany has already spoken in favor of the request. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, that he ordered the German Ambassador to Turkey “to positively receive such a request.”
“It would be a serious mistake if we were to refuse defensive support to a NATO member country in a moment when this member country feels that it is exposed to attacks from outside,” he said.
NATO installed Patriot systems by Turkish request two times, during the first and second Iraq wars in 1991 and 2003. The systems, however, went unused and were removed from the country shortly after the wars. In both cases the deployment was carried out by the Netherlands.