Turkey will make an official request to its NATO partners to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria. The surface-to-air missiles will be able to shoot down aircraft up to 160 kilometers away.
The request will be made “imminently,” a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the media.
Patriot is a long-range, all-weather, all-altitude system designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
The possibility of enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria, where rebel fighters would be protected from attacks by the government’s air force, has been on the table for some time despite NATO’s reluctance to intervene in the Syrian conflict without a mandate from the UN Security Council.
The Patriot missile deployment is one of several scenarios currently being considered, the official said. Plans for the deployment were put on hold pending the results of the US election, the source explained, speaking on condition of anonymity because of ministry prohibitions on speaking with the media.
The official said that any missile deployment might happen under a “NATO umbrella,” although NATO maintains it will not intervene without a clear UN mandate.
Tensions between Turkey and Syria escalated in October, when shells coming from Syria landed in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, killing five civilians.
Turkey retaliated for several days. At least ten Syrian troops were reportedly killed by Turkish fire.
Turkey previously requested the deployment of the Patriot system during the first and second Iraq wars. In both cases, deployments were carried out by the Netherlands – one of the few NATO members equipped with the system.