From Ivan Watson
In a potential escalation of the Syrian conflict, Turkey asked NATO on Wednesday for Patriot missiles to bolster its air defenses against its southern neighbor.
A letter to NATO included the "formal request" that the alliance send "air defense elements," according to a Turkish government statement that cited "the threats and risks posed by the continuing crisis in Syria to our national security."
The statement added that the NATO Council would convene "shortly" to consider the matter.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a Twitter post that the request would be considered without delay.
In a statement on Wednesday, Rasmussen said the letter from Turkey requested Patriot missiles that would "contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's south-eastern border" and serve as "a concrete demonstration of alliance solidarity and resolve."
Rasmussen's statement said three NATO countries have available Patriot missiles - Germany, the Netherlands and the United States - and it would be up to them to decide if they can deploy them and for how long.
A NATO team will visit Turkey next week to survey possible deployment sites for the Patriot missiles, Rasmussen's statement said.
Sources told CNN that Germany would be the likely source for a deployment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that any decision involving her country would need the approval of Parliament.
In Turkey, Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said NATO forces under the command of the alliance would come to Turkey as part of the missile deployment. He noted that NATO-supplied Patriot missiles previously were deployed in Turkey in 1991 and 2003.
"It's not as if they are going to come tomorrow to be deployed," Unal said, calling the move a precautionary measure that will deter escalation along the Syrian border.