17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman

Turkey says NATO Patriot missiles could counter Syria's chemical weapons

13 November 2012, Tuesday /TODAYSZAMAN.COM
Turkish President Abdullah Gül has warned against Syria using chemical weapons against Turkey and suggested that NATO's Patriot missiles could counter the threat.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Gül said it is no secret that Syria has chemical weapons and that Damascus has old Soviet delivery systems to deploy them. “So in case there is in some eventuality some sort of madness in this respect and some action is taken, contingency planning has to be put in place and this is something NATO is doing,” he said.

Gül's remarks came on a day when the leader of NATO said the alliance will defend its only Muslim member, Turkey, and has “all plans in place” to do so.  

Turkey is becoming increasingly concerned about security along its border with Syria, in an area of the Southeast where Ankara is also fighting an emboldened wave of terrorist attacks waged by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"NATO as an organization will do what it takes to protect and defend Turkey, our ally. We have all plans in place to make sure that we can protect and defend Turkey and hopefully that way also deter so that attacks on Turkey will not take place," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday.

Turkey earlier said it is talking to its NATO allies about the possible deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to guard against a spillover of Syria's conflict. Rasmussen made no specific remarks on the possible deployment of Patriots.

Damascus has not signed a 1992 international convention that bans the use, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons, but officials in the past have denied it had any stockpiles.

Western countries and Israel have voiced fears that chemical weapons could fall into the hands of militant groups as the authority of Assad erodes.

In July, Syria acknowledged for the first time that it has chemical and biological weapons and said it could use them if foreign nations intervened in the uprising against Assad's rule.

Speaking about a series of mortar rounds that fell in Turkish territory in the past few weeks, Gül said he doesn't believe the Syrian shells were intentional but that Turkey definitely cannot tolerate such action and “we give the necessary response.”

Turkey fired back at Syria in what the US called a “proportionate response” after several mortar shells fell in southern Turkish towns bordering Syria.  

Gül warned that increase in the influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey could amount to a security risk as Ankara is concerned over the growing presence of PKK-linked groups in northern Syria.

Turkey is also concerned about the possible infiltration of terrorists among the refugees from Syria and the prospects that the eventual toppling of President Bashar al-Assad's regime could lead to the collapse of the Syrian state and the disintegration of the country.

Analysts warn that the civil war could result in the disintegration of Syria if the Alawites retreat to the country's Alawite-populated regions and declare their own state there. Kurds, who are unwilling to support either the regime or the Sunni opposition, have already declared their own rule in the country's northern towns, bordering Turkey.

The Kurdish move has alarmed Turkey, which fears the PKK may find a fertile new ground in northern Syria to step up attacks on Turkish targets.

Gül said at least 150,000 Syrian refugees are residing in Turkey, nearly 30,000 more than the official count, explaining that his figure includes those refugees outside the camps.

He noted that the first and foremost danger was to the Syrian people and this is clearly a situation that cannot continue. “It is a country that is consuming itself,” he declared.

DIPLOMACY  Other Titles
US warns against damage to ties over recurring media claims
Chief ombudsman laments low implementation of KDK recommendations
KRG's Barzani visits Ankara for talks with Erdoğan
Villagers file suit against ministry over stray bullets from Syria
Chinese deputy foreign minister in Ankara for inter-delegation meeting
Turkey says deeply concerned over events in Ukraine
‘Turkey will not remain silent over 'genocide resolution' if adopted’
Russia welcomes Turkey's assurances on observance of Montreux terms
Poland: NATO should send troops to east Europe, ignore Russia's objections
US looks to Turkey to uphold checks and balances
Dubai may be a hub for Turkey and Iran's illicit transactions
US House Speaker meets senior Turkish officials in Ankara
EU Minister Çavuşoğlu says Füle's comments on Turkey ‘balanced'
US Ambassador Ricciardone has talks with AK Party officials
Turkey's honorary consuls meet to discuss foreign policy
Iran to build cultural center in the heart of İstanbul
Loğoğlu: No Turkish institution in US works against Turkey
Erdoğan will further polarize Turkey as presidential election approaches
European Union concerned about rule of law in Turkey
Turkey seeks to restore dialogue with Serbia with FM's visit
Turkish Rights groups slam Egypt over execution ruling
Turkey to boost relations with Afghanistan, backing stability in post-election era
Erdoğan's political ambitions clash with Turkey's long-term interests
Critics say Turkey no longer state with rule of law with MİT bill
Turkey might export domestic political tension to diaspora