News / Middle East

Syrian Strikes Heighten Urgency of Patriot Missile Deployment in Turkey

NATO's Patriot surface-to-air missilesNATO's Patriot surface-to-air missiles
x
NATO's Patriot surface-to-air missiles
NATO's Patriot surface-to-air missiles
NATO preparations to defend Turkey from potential Syrian attacks may find new urgency as Damascus begins to use missiles against Syrian rebels across the Turkish border.

U.S. officials on Wednesday said Syrian troops fired Scud missiles at opposition forces for the first time in recent days, marking an escalation of longtime President Bashar al-Assad's fight against a 21-month rebellion.

Turkey has long feared that an increasingly desperate Assad government may resort to striking Turkish targets with its Russian-designed missiles and warplanes, in retaliation for Ankara's hosting and support of Syrian rebels and refugees.

IHS Jane's analyst Ben Goodlad says Syria has about 550 Scud missiles with a range of up to 800 kilometers.

Last week, Turkey won approval from other members of the NATO alliance for the deployment of U.S.-made Patriot missiles to defend its southeastern region against the perceived Syrian threat.

The Patriot is a ground-based defense system that fires missiles to intercept airborne threats, including aircraft and ballistic missiles.

NATO preparations

Alliance members Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to send two Patriot batteries to Turkey, while the size of the U.S. contribution is still being worked out.

A U.S. Defense Department official told VOA the Obama administration is determining the best way to respond to Turkey's request and likely will announce details of the Patriot deployment within days.

Speaking by phone from Brussels, a NATO official said the alliance expects the three nations to start shipping the large and heavy batteries to Turkey in the coming weeks.

He said the costs of transporting and operating the Patriot system will be borne by the contributing governments, a typical practice in NATO missions. The Dutch government has estimated the cost of its two-battery mission in Turkey at $55 million for one year.

The NATO official said Turkey will cover 'host nation' expenses such as electricity, accommodation and food for the hundreds of foreign troops needed to run the batteries.

Turkish and NATO officials have been in talks to finalize the locations of the Patriot units. A NATO survey team visited southeastern Turkey late last month and early this month to scout possible sites, including key population centers and civilian and military installations.

Strategic positions

The NATO team visited Adana's Sakirpasa civilian airport and Incirlik NATO air force base, Iskenderun's commercial port, naval and army bases, a radar site at Kisecik village near Antakya, and air bases in Malatya and Diyarbakir.

Ben Goodlad said he expects at least one Patriot unit to be deployed around Diyarbakir, a major regional city around 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.

Patriot interceptors can hit incoming missiles up to 20 kilometers from a launching station. Goodlad said that means the launchers need to be relatively close to population centers to protect them from missile attacks.

He said the interceptors also can target hostile aircraft as far as 160 kilometers away, enabling a Diyarbakir-based battery to shield much of Turkey's border region from possible Syrian air strikes.

Border sensitivities

For those reasons, Goodlad said there is little need to deploy Patriot units right along Turkey's more sparsely populated border with Syria. Russia, a longtime Assad ally, has expressed concern that positioning the interceptors on the border could threaten Syria and exacerbate the situation.

"NATO is keen not to position its batteries on the border itself in order to maintain a defensive posture, rather than being viewed as an aggressive move toward Syria," Goodlad said.

The NATO official said the alliance expects that any intercepts of Syrian ballistic missiles would occur over Turkish territory.

"But the precise intercept location depends on many factors, including when the attacking missile is detected, and where the closest Patriot battery is," he said.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david falls from: penticton BC Canada
December 18, 2012 3:42 PM
I would like to know why is the world upset with N.K to put a satilight in to space and say its ok to put a missile defence in Turkey?I think when the USA gets up set with one country and get the world to back them up and the USA do something different and the world don't get up set there is something wrong.

by: Mohammad Ataullah from: Canada
December 13, 2012 7:58 AM
It is Iraq all over again by USA for Apartheid State of Israel (on occupied Palestinian land).

by: Sunny Enwerem
December 13, 2012 5:33 AM
Assad will use the chemical weapons,a preemptive strike is needed or a no fly zone.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs