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POLITICS > Patriot decision expected this week

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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A group of NATO officials are visiting Adana province for Patriots. AA photo

A group of NATO officials are visiting Adana province for Patriots. AA photo

İpek Yezdani İpek Yezdani ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

A decision on where to deploy Patriot missiles near Turkey’s border with Syria will be made either just before a NATO foreign ministers summit starting tomorrow in Brussels or on the sidelines of the summit, a Turkish official has said. “It depends when the sight visiting team of NATO finishes its report. The number of Patriot batteries and their locations will be decided after the visiting team reports back to the alliance. The number of the batteries is an important issue here,” the official said.

Since Turkish soldiers have not been through the necessary training on the usage of the Patriots, they will be handled by outside NATO soldiers, the official said, adding that what kind of maneuvers would be conducted in different conditions would be decided by both Turkish and NATO commanders through the NATO rules of engagement.

“Due to geographical reasons, it will probably be either German or Dutch soldiers working with our soldiers on the ground,” the official said.

A team of NATO experts has been in Turkey to survey sites near the Syrian border that could serve as suitable locations for the deployment of the missiles. It is not yet clear where or how many Patriots will be deployed, but possible locations include the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir or Şanlıurfa, or Malatya in the east, which already hosts an early warning radar as part of NATO’s missile defense system. The Turkish official said the Patriots would not be deployed at the zero point of the Syrian and Turkish border, but they may be deployed in an area where there is wider defense coverage.

The NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels is expected to signal support for alliance member Turkey by giving the go-ahead to deploy the Patriots against any possible threat from Syria.

December/03/2012

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