Revealed: Turkey requested defense against potential Syrian chemical weapons attack
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Turkey requested Nato Patriot missile defenses to be deployed last month, following intelligence that the Syrian government was considering using missiles and chemical weapons on opposition areas, British newspaper, the Guardian, reported on Sunday.
Turkish officials reportedly told the Guardian they had credible evidence that if the regime's standard attacks on opposition areas failed, the government would consider using missiles and chemical weapons.
The officials claimed that while missiles would be aimed at opposition strongholds within Syria, they could easily stray across the border to Turkey.
The Patriot defenses, requested last month, would be able to spot and intercept incoming missiles.
"We have intelligence from different sources that the Syrians will use ballistic missiles and chemical warheads," a senior Turkish official told the Guardian.
"First they sent the infantry in against the rebels and they lost a lot of men, and many changed sides. Then they sent in the tanks, and they were taken out by anti-tank missiles. So now it's air power. If that fails it will be missiles, perhaps with chemical warheads. That is why we asked Nato for protection," he explained.
The admission from Turkish officials follows a report in the New York Times that western intelligence officials had spotted new signs of activity around Syrian military sites where chemical weapons are stored.
Assad has been warned that the use of chemical weapons would trigger direct military intervention against him from the west.
However, so far western officials maintain that there are no signs of the regime taking the final steps towards preparing chemical artillery shells, missile or aircraft bombs for use.
Turkish diplomats expect approval to go through this week on whether Dutch and German Patriot systems can be deployed.
- NATO approves missile defenses for Turkey after Syrian "violations" into its territory
- German cabinet approves Turkey's Patriot missile request
- Turkey asks NATO to extend Patriot missile deployment by a year
- Turkey warns of imminent terror attacks against Syrian opposition
- Turkey and U.S. to investigate new chemical weapons accusations