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NATO: Deploying missiles in Turkey could take several weeks

Nov. 30, 2012 7:42 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 30, 2012 7:42 P.M.)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- NATO allies are expected to take several weeks to deploy Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Turkey once the alliance approves Ankara's request, a NATO spokeswoman said Friday.

NATO experts are in Turkey assessing the best sites to place the missiles that Ankara has requested from NATO to defend it against any spillover from civil war in neighboring Syria.

Once the team has reported back to NATO, military commanders will draw up a recommendation to alliance ambassadors who are expected to give the go-ahead to sending the missiles early next week, according to NATO diplomats.

"I would expect that if the decision is taken it could take several weeks to deploy, rather than months," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.

Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have Patriots available.

Some of those countries may need parliamentary approval to send Patriots and Lungescu said she did not want to judge how long those national processes would take.

Turkey formally asked NATO for the Patriot missiles earlier this month after weeks of talks with NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 560-mile border.

It has repeatedly scrambled fighter jets along the frontier and responded in kind to stray Syrian shells flying into its territory.

Syria, Iran and Russia have all criticized Turkey's request for Patriots, saying the move would deepen instability in the region.
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