Among fears that the Syrian government is preparing to use missiles armed with chemical warheads, Turkey has requested NATO to deploy Patriot missile batteries along Turkey's Syrian boarder.
Last Tuesday, Turkish officials met with 30 experts from Germany, the Netherlands and the US to discuss the possibility of NATO Patriot missiles deployment. During the meeting Turkey assured them the missiles would be "purely defensive" and that Turkey had no plans to create a no-fly zone over Syria according the the German news agency, DPA.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN he expected foreign ministers to meet in Brussels on Tuesday to decide on whether to grant Turkey's request, saying he expected them to “respond positively”.
Turkish officials have claimed they have credible evidence that the Syrian government will resort to the uses of missiles armed with chemical weapons if their aerial assaults against rebel controlled areas are unsuccessful. Turkey believes the missiles will be aimed at Syrian rebels, but due to previous instances, fear a stray missile may fly into Turkish territory.
A senior Turkish official told The Guardian:
"We have intelligence from different sources that the Syrians will use ballistic missiles and chemical warheads. First they sent the infantry in against the rebels and they lost a lot of men, and many changed sides. Then they sent in the tanks, and they were taken out by anti-tank missiles. So now it's air power. If that fails it will be missiles, perhaps with chemical warheads. That is why we asked NATO for protection."
The New York Times is reporting that American officials have confirmed an increase in activity over the past two to three days at sites believed to contain stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria. Concerns were ratcheted up when Jihad Makdiss, the Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, fled Syria on Monday, reportedly heading to London to defect. Earlier this year, Makdiss insisted that the Syrian government would never use chemical weapons against its own people. His resignation from the Syrian government, and subsequent departure from the country, have some wondering if it indicates the Syrian government does indeed plan to use chemical weapons in the near future.
On Monday, Mikhail Bogdanov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, announced his country was prepared to provide assistance to any of its citizens wishing to leave Syria. The The United Nations also announced the suspension of operations in Syria and the withdrawal of non-essential staff.