Turkey and its NATO allies, including the United States, have been discussing the deployment of “Patriot” missiles on the Turkish side of the border with Syria to protect this area from attacks by Syria, the Turkish Milliyet daily reported on Wednesday. Turkey considers the Patriot missiles on its territory as a precaution against a potential Syrian military offensive, while Syrian bombings on the southern border of Turkey have increased tensions between the two countries.
Turkey and the United States consider the deployment of missiles in the Turkish province of Kilis (south), and the missiles should protect an area of 60 km up to the Syrian city of Aleppo, the newspaper said.
Turkey’s move also aims to protect civilians and Syrian opposition forces from shelling by the Syrian government, it added.
The deployment, which could be implemented under the auspices of NATO, was put to bed during the time of the U.S. election.
Turkey has twice requested the deployment of Patriot missile systems on its territory, in the early 1990s and 2000s, in the context of the war in Iraq. Ankara’s request has been satisfied by the Netherlands, one of the few countries with these missile systems.
Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main Syrian opposition movement fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began on Wednesday to elect new leaders in Doha, Qatar. The General Assembly of SNC boasts 420 members, who shall appoint a chairman and, a secretariat of 40 members and an executive committee composed of 11 members. The results are expected later in the day.
Activists in Syria, who recently joined the SNC should vote by Skype and other means, the body said.
The SNC is the subject of criticism for its lack of representativeness, being dominated by exiled Syrians, largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States in particular pushes for a more representative and united opposition.