ANKARA, Turkey — NATO is preparing to deploy Patriot missile batteries in Turkey for the first time in about a decade amid Turkish fears that Syria may launch a punitive missile attack against the country for backing Syrian rebels.
The Turkish government has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and allowed Syrian officers to command the rebel Free Syrian Army from a refugee camp inside Turkey. While rebels frequently cross into Turkey to obtain food, medicine and clothes, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government denies arming them.
“The fear in Ankara is while on his way out,” Assad “could send his chemical weapons to Turkey in a revenge attack,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Ankara, said in an interview. “Even the possibility is terrifying, of course.”
A NATO delegation will visit southern Turkey next week to decide where the missiles can be positioned, NTV television said today.