Germany plans to deploy surface-to-air missiles along Turkey's border with Syria, a German newspaper reported Saturday, citing an unnamed source. Officials from NATO, Turkey and Germany did not confirm the report.
The Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Saturday that Germany planned to deploy Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile units and up to 170 troops to operate them. Turkey, which has become a temporary home to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and traded rocket fire with Syria's military, is scheduled to make its formal request to NATO on Monday, the newspaper reported.
In response to the article, a spokesman said Germany's Defense Ministry would consider the request and confirmed that, within NATO, only the US, the Netherlands and Germany have the Patriot model specified in the report.
"If NATO were to ask Germany, we would consider that and bear in mind our duties in the alliance," the ministry spokesperson said.
The newspaper reported that German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière had discussed the issue Thursday at a meeting with his French, Polish, Italian and Spanish counterparts. He told them that, if the deployment were agreed, it would aim solely to protect Turkey and not to interfere in the Syrian conflict.
Nearly two weeks ago, Turkey had announced that it would like NATO support in the form of surface-to-air missiles.
Despite the German media flurry on Saturday surrounding Turkey's reported plans to step up its defense against Syria, a NATO spokesperson said she could not confirm the newspaper's report.
"There hasn't been a request from Turkey," NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said in response to the report. "If there is a request from Turkey, of course allies will consider it."
mkg/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)