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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More