NATO approves Turkey's request to provide missile defence amid Syria chemical weapons fear

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 06:40 hrs

NATO has approved deploying Patriot anti-missile batteries along Turkey's border with Syria.

The decision came after a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels, and amid growing fears that Syria could use chemical weapons.

Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the ministers had 'unanimously expressed grave concerns' about the use of chemical weapons.

Speaking after the meeting, Rasmussen told reporters that the foreign ministers had "unanimously expressed grave concerns" about the reports, saying: "Any such action would be completely unacceptable and a clear breach of international law."

According to the BBC, the meeting of the 28-member Western military alliance's foreign ministers in Brussels followed a request from Turkey to boost its defences along the border.

In a statement, Nato said it had 'agreed to augment Turkey's air defence capabilities in order to defend the population and territory of Turkey and to contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the alliance's border'.

Nato's deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries to south-eastern Turkey is essentially a gesture of reassurance to Ankara, the report said.

Turkey is feeling threatened by the growing crisis in Syria. Stray Syrian artillery shells have already come across the border on several occasions, the report added.

According to the report, Patriot is highly capable against both advanced aircraft and ballistic missiles. But Nato will underline that this is to be seen as a defensive deployment only.

Syria is believed to hold chemical weapons, including mustard gas and sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent, at dozens of sites around the country, the report added. (ANI)

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