U.S. Sends Patriot Missiles To Turkey

While the situation in Syria continues to devolve, the U.S. is beefing up Turkey’s defenses:

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has signed an order to send two U.S. Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, along with about 400 troops to secure and operate them along the country’s southern border with Syria, he told CBS News on Friday.

The deployment, confirmed by Panetta to CBS Radio News correspondent Cami McCormick aboard a flight from Afghanistan to Turkey, is part of a NATO effort to help shield Turkey from any missiles fired by Syria, and it came as the defense chief said for the first time that previous intelligence indicated the Syrian regime was “very serious about potentially using” chemical weapons.

CBS News correspondent David Martin was told by senior officials last week that monitoring of roughly two dozen bases where President Bashar Assad is believed to have chemical weapons stored indicated the regime had begun preparing the materials, including sarin gas, for use. Satellites had seen trucks moving among the bunkers where the weapons and agents are believed to be stored. U.S. officials told Martin the evidence was strong, but circumstantial — not definitive.

Friday was the first time Panetta himself had addressed the specific intelligence indicating Syria’s chemical weapons preparations, telling McCormick, “we had intelligence they (Syrian forces) were in fact beginning to assemble the weapons for the use of sarin gas.”

“Once you start mixing the material for that, the next step then is ultimately to use those weapons,” said Panetta. “The fact that they took that step is a clear indication that they were very serious about potentially using them.”

With the situation in Syria falling apart by the day, this seems like a wise move.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Quick Takes, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that both German and Russian intelligence have vehemently denied the U. S. claims that the Syrian government is preparing to use chemical weapons.

    I can’t help but think that sending missile batteries to Turkey is more preparing for the Assad regime to fall and his weapons, possibly, falling into the hands of people with something against the Turkish government than it is preparing for Assad to use chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels.

  2. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    That (those) wouldn’t be the same Turkey(s) that pulled in the welcome mat when the 4th Infantry Division wanted to go knocking on some of Saddam Hussein’s palace doors, now would it ???

    Islamists make the best allies, or so I been told.