(BRUSSELS) — U.S.-made Patriot missiles will be deployed in strategic spots along the Turkish border in what is the first major step by NATO to deal with the possibility of the conflict in Syria widening.
After conferring with the 28-member alliance, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced on Tuesday that “Turkey has asked for NATO’s support, and we stand with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity.”
In essence, Fogh Rasmussen said that an attack on Turkey by Syria would be considered an attack on NATO.
However, the NATO leader also explained that these Patriot anti-missile batteries supplied by the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands should not be interpreted as a build-up toward direct intervention in the 20-month Syrian conflict.
Fogh Rasmussen added that the air defenses are meant to defend Turkey and are not intended to provide a no-fly zone over Syria that might protect rebel forces in their ongoing battle against President Bashar al-Assad’s military.
Nonetheless, the missiles, which are expected to be in place early next year, could also be used for other purposes if the Syrian government unleashes chemical weapons against its enemies as Washington and other nations fear might be in the works.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Greg Botelho, CNN Newswire
Chieu Luu and Huizhong Wu, CNN