NATO: Patriots not for radar’s protection

NATO: Patriots not for radar’s protection

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
NATO: Patriots not for radar’s protection

NATO decides on the deployment of six Patriots in Turkey as Ankara had not asked for a specific number. AFP photo

Patriot missile to be deployed in Turkey are not designed to protect NATO early warning radar facility in eastern Anatolia, a NATO official has said, dismissing claims from opposition party leaders suggesting the anti-missile system will not target Syrian threats.

“Patriots have their own radars. They are for defense. Their single aim is to prevent any medium-range missiles from hitting Turkish land and preventing deaths or injuries,” NATO’s deputy secretary-general, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, said in an address at the 19th International Antalya Conference on Security and Cooperation on Dec. 15.

Following military evaluations, NATO decided to send six Patriot batteries to Turkey, Grabar-Kitarovic said, adding that they would make a reassessment in January according to the needs of the region. Grabar-Kitarovic’s remarks came after Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Faruk Loğoğlu said the Patriot systems were not for use against threats from Syria but to protect the Kürecik radar base in the eastern province of Malatya. Speaking at the Antalya conference, Loğoğlu said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not intend to threaten Turkish people.

Patriots through Eskişehir

The command operation of the Patriot systems will be linked to Ramstein NATO base in Germany through Turkey’s 1st Air Command headquarters in Eskişehir, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News, noting that the range of Patriots in Turkey would cover threats coming from all Syrian territory. Rejecting claims that the Patriots would not be able to defend against potential chemical weapons from Syria, the official said the system would destroy any mass-destruction missiles in the air before they constituted a danger to the Turkish people.

Turkey has conducted two weeks of negotiations with a group of NATO members, including possible donor countries Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S., about the missiles, according to the official. All three countries were willing to contribute to Patriots from the beginning, but discussions were undertaken regarding the number of donations each country would provide, their personnel and how to maintain the Patriots’ optimal functioning.

In a meantime, on the ground Syrian fighter jets bombed the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus yesterday, killing at least 25 people sheltering in a mosque, according to Reuters. k HDN