Syria criticises Nato on Patriot missiles

2012-12-06 18:01

Beirut — Syria sharply criticised Nato's move to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Turkey, calling the decision "provocative", as the West took a major step toward a possible military role in the civil war.

After getting Cabinet approval, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters that two German Patriot batteries with a total of 400 soldiers would be sent to the border area under Nato command for one year, although the deployment could be shortened.

The announcement also appeared to be a message to Assad's regime at a time when Washington and other governments fear Syria may be readying its chemical weapons stockpiles for possible use as fighting with the rebels in the capital, Damascus, and other areas intensifies.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated concerns on Wednesday that "an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons" or lose control of them to militant groups.

In recent days, US intelligence has detected signs the Syrian regime was moving chemical weapons components around within several sites, according to a senior US defence official and two US officials. This type of activity had not been detected before and one of the US officials said it bears further scrutiny.

Syria's deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad insisted the deployment of the missile defence system would not affect the determination of President Bashar Assad's government to crush the "terrorists", using the regime's term for rebels fighting to topple the longtime leader.

No confirmation

Mekdad denounced the Nato move and the chemical weapons "chorus" as part of a conspiracy that is possibly laying out the foundations for a military intervention in Syria.

Syria has been careful not to confirm it has chemical weapons while insisting it would never use such weapons against its own people

"I repeat for the hundredth time that even if such weapons exist in Syria, they will not be used against the Syrian people," Mekdad said in an interview with Lebanon's Al-Manar TV station. "We cannot possibly commit suicide, Syria is a responsible country."

Mekdad added that the Syrian government is worried the US or some European countries could provide "terrorist" organisations in Syria with chemical weapons to use, then blame the government.

Asked about Nato's approval to send Patriot missiles to Turkey, Mekdad said "there is absolutely no justification for that because Syria will not attack the friendly people of Turkey".

He said Syria's problem was with the Turkish government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which he said has funded and trained "terrorists" and opened its borders for al-Qaeda fighters to come to Syria.

Intervention 'catastrophic'

He said the Turkish government was "bankrupt" and was "begging for assistance from Nato countries".

"The Turkish move and Nato's support for it is a provocative move, part of psychological warfare against Syria," Mekdad said. "But if they think this will affect our determination to fight the terrorists ... they are wrong."

He warned that any foreign military intervention against Syria will be "catastrophic" with severe consequences.

Nato agreed earlier this week to send the weapons to prevent cross-border attacks against Turkey after mortar rounds and shells from Syria killed five Turks.

Germany's Cabinet approved sending German Patriot air defence missiles to Turkey on Thursday. The decision must be endorsed by the German Parliament, but approval is all but assured. The Dutch Cabinet is expected to announce approval on Friday, contingent on parliamentary approval.

De Maiziere said the overall mission was also expected to include two batteries each from the Netherlands and the United States.

No pre-emptive penetration

German officials stressed that the missiles will only be used to defend Turkish territory and would not be a part of any "no fly zone" over Syrian territory.

"Nobody knows what such a regime is capable of and that is why we are acting protectively here," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

Officials said the Patriots will be programmed so that they can intercept only Syrian weapons that cross into Turkish airspace. They aren't allowed to penetrate Syrian territory pre-emptively.

That means they would have no immediate effect on any Syrian government offensives — chemical or conventional — that remain strictly inside the country's national borders.

Due to the complexity and size of the Patriot batteries — including their radars, command-and-control centres, communications and support facilities — they will probably have to travel by sea and won't arrive in Turkey for another month, Nato officials said.

Violence in Syria, meanwhile, persisted. A booby-trapped car exploded outside the offices of the Red Crescent society in the al-Zahera neighbourhood of Damascus, killing one person, according to state television.

It's the latest in a series of bombings that have hit Damascus in recent weeks amid fierce fighting in the capital's suburbs between Assad's forces and rebels seeking to topple him.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosion was followed by a heavy deployment of security troops in the area on the southern edge of Damascus.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-06 18:36

    . The terrorists regime of this assad has NO say, to what happens INSIDE Syria, let alone OUTSIDE Syria !!!!

  • avremel.niselow - 2012-12-06 18:37

    And once again another country goes up in flames with nary a word from the UN. The lesson is: so long as you're not Jewish or Western you can do what you like.

      bradley.kecskes - 2012-12-07 11:48

      "Once Zion is no more" and who will rid of them Patty boy? please go...

  • Benjamin - 2012-12-06 21:42

    Like murdering your own people is not provocative!

  • shane.loxton - 2012-12-07 08:11

    It appears the United States is determined to engage in yet another war without having been attacked or even having their allies attacked. The brazen Obama doctrine of preemptively bombing civilians to prevent a humanitarian crisis may soon be coming to another lucky country; Syria. Although the build up to this conflict has been brewing for some time, it has now begun to boil. The US State Department is claiming categorically that Syria has weapons of mass destruction and that their use against foreign-backed rebels is imminent. From NBC: The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said. (emphasis added) They wouldn't be lying to get us into another war of aggression, would they?

      shane.loxton - 2012-12-07 08:12

      I guess they learned that it's easier to just make direct assumptions than present phony theatrics to the United Nations of empty vials and illustrations of mobile weapons' labs. Meanwhile, the West continues to fund, arm, and train the rebels who are admittedly mostly foreigners and for all intents and purposes, Islamic terrorists -- just like they did in Libya. It appears that if you're a secular country in the Middle East or North Africa that allows freedom of religion and women to become doctors, you're the enemy of the West while they stay friendly with oppressive regimes. Iraq, Egypt, and Libya seem so much better off since the West liberated them from brutal dictators who peacefully accepted other religions and let women show their faces in public. Yet, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are rewarded for public beheadings, crushing peaceful protests, and RFID tracking of their fully burqa-ed women by these humanitarian warriors.

      shane.loxton - 2012-12-07 08:13

      Several other stories indicate that America is steamrolling to war in Syria. The NDAA that passed unanimously in the Senate to fund military operations for 2013 contained an amendment introduced by Sen. John McCain (Amendment 3262), which seeks recommendations for a no-fly zone and other military activities "that could deny or degrade the ability of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use air power against civilians and opposition groups in Syria." And, as we learned from the violent overthrow of Gaddafi, the new definition of a no-fly zone is carpet bombing heavily populated cities and critical infrastructure in order to remove a leader of a sovereign country with a state-run central bank. Additionally, NATO has recently moved Patriot missiles into Turkey pointed at Syria and the U.N. has pulled non-essential staff from Syria. The U.S. has made the use of WMD by Assad the line in the sand. Obama said Monday, The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.

      shane.loxton - 2012-12-07 08:16

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reinforced this yesterday in Brussels: Our concerns are that an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons, or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within Syria. We have sent an unmistakable message that this would cross a red line and those responsible would be held to account. Even if Assad had them and used them against the terrorist rebels, who are proven to be primarily foreigners fighting a Jihad, does that justify U.S. intervention? I thought the U.S. was fighting against Islamic Jihadists? The only one who seems "desperate" is the West, to justify their military presence in the region. It would not surprise me in the least if the U.S.-backed rebels drop some mustard gas on civilians to blame Assad. They've certainly been doing a lot worse to civilians in the name of liberating them. Then the West can hold Assad "accountable" and go collect their next central bank in pursuit of global domination.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-07 18:30

      . WOW, and you write all this crap FOR NOTHING!!!! Are you nuts!! THE loonies of the violent Left, will pay big bucks for this CRAP!1 You are a master of making up your own history with....real people !! Can hardly wait for your next post !!!!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-08 06:40

      . Pati, You probably have not bothered to read Shame's long story !, but it is difficult to imagine, someone coming up with more crazy stuff than this. Like our own Fidel does, it are nice words, and great constructed sentences, but it is just utter BS, and can only come from some lonely loony of the violent left, desperate to entertain his buddies. Shame succeeded with you !!

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