By Jonathon Burch and Gulsen Solaker
ANKARA Nov 7 Turkey is to make an imminent
official request to NATO to station Patriot missiles along its
border with Syria, a senior Turkish foreign ministry official
said on Wednesday.
NATO-member Turkey has already bolstered its own military
presence along the 910-km (560-mile) border and has been
responding in kind to gunfire and mortar shells hitting its
territory from fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian
"Concerning this topic (Patriot missiles), an imminent
official request is to be made," the official told Reuters on
condition of anonymity.
The official said there was a potential missile threat to
Turkey from Syria and that Turkey had a right to take steps to
counter such a threat. He gave no further details.
"The deployment of these type of missiles as a step to
counter threats is routine under NATO regulations," the official
said, adding that they had been deployed in Turkey before such
as during the second Gulf War.
Asked about such a request, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu said: "Everything will be considered within the
framework of possible preparations", state-run Anatolian news
Davutoglu's comments were made to Turkish reporters in
Brussels on Wednesday. The minister did not elaborate.
Turkish broadcaster NTV, which was present at the briefing,
earlier reported Davutoglu as saying NATO was already preparing
to deploy the missiles inside Turkey but later retracted that
report. A Turkish official denied the minister had made those
A NATO spokeswoman in Brussels said: "We haven't received a
request. As the Secretary-General said on Monday, the allies
will consider any request that is brought to the North Atlantic
Turkish newspapers have previously reported that Ankara was
planning to make a formal request to NATO to deploy Patriot
missiles but have not said how soon that request would be made.
NATO has deployed Patriot missiles to Turkey twice before,
once in 1991 and later in 2003 during both Gulf Wars. The
missiles were then provided by the Netherlands.
Turkey has become increasingly concerned about security
along its shared border with Syria and has summoned its NATO
allies twice this year over the issue, saying the alliance had a
duty to protect its own frontier.
Turkey's military has been firing at government military
targets inside Syria in response to mortar rounds launched from
its southern neighbour landing on its own soil.
In the most serious cross-border escalation of the Syrian
uprising, five Turkish civilians were killed in early October by
a mortar fired from Syria landing in a Turkish border town.
Turkey's Chief-of-Staff has said his troops would respond
"with greater force" if shells continued to land in Turkey, and
parliament also authorised last month the deployment of troops
But Turkey is reluctant to take any unilateral military
action inside Syria and while Washington has vowed to stand by
Ankara, it has found itself increasingly isolated and frustrated
by a lack of international consensus on how to end the conflict.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had long cultivated
good relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but became
a harsh critic after Syria's popular revolt began last year.
Erdogan has allowed Syrian rebels to organise on Turkish soil
and pushed for a foreign-protected safe zone inside Syria.
Ankara has twice invoked Article 4 of the NATO charter this
year which provides for consultations when a member state feels
its territorial integrity, political independence or security is
Turkey is also sheltering more than 110,000 Syrian refugees
in camps along the Syrian border who have fled the fighting in