by Staff Writers
Ankara (AFP) Dec 05, 2012
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in remarks published Wednesday that Ankara
knows the "exact location" of hundreds of ground missiles belonging to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Assad has about 700 missiles... Now we know the exact location of all of them, how they are stored and who holds them," Davutoglu was quoted as saying by the Sabah newspaper.
The comments emerged the day after NATO ministers approved Turkey's request for deployment of Patriot missiles along its volatile border with Syria, a move that has angered Damascus and its allies.
Davutoglu said the international community feared possible attacks from Damascus against countries such as Turkey which were pushing for the toppling of the regime, if it felt the end was near.
"We say to anyone who would want to attack Turkey -- don't even think about it," NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in announcing the alliance's decision on the Patriots, a US-made ground to air system.
The number of missile batteries and their precise location have yet to be decided and will be determined after a site survey in Turkey and consultations within NATO.
Syria reportedly has several types of ballistic missiles, including Russian-made Scuds.
Turkey requested the Patriots out of concern for "possible action by uncontrolled groups in Syria," Davutoglu said without elaborating.
Turkey has said the missiles would be for "purely defensive purposes" after several cross-border shelling attacks from Syria, where the 21-month old conflict killed more than 41,000 people according to rights groups.
Russian warships made call in Syrian port: reports
The landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov docked in the port of Tartus for several hours but their crews did not go ashore, the Interfax and ITAR-TASS news agencies reported.
"They loaded up on fuel and water and had minor repairs. No shore leave was planned for the crew," a source in the naval chief of staff told the Interfax news agency.
ITAR-TASS said the call took place at the end of November and lasted several hours.
The Tartus base is Russia's only remaining foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union and is seen as a major strategic asset for Moscow.
Russia has defiantly refused to cut military cooperation with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite the conflict that according to rights groups has killed 41,000 people.
However Russia prefers to term the facility a "point of material-technical supply" for the navy rather than a base and it is too shallow for large ships to dock on shore.
Russia also retains only a small permanent personnel presence at the facility, with no ships permanently based there and port calls increasingly rare in the last years.