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MISSILE DEFENSE
White House: no Patriot missiles in Syria
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 26, 2013


Syria opposition asks US for Patriot missile protection
Doha (AFP) March 26, 2013 - Syrian opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib said Tuesday he has asked the United States to extend NATO's Patriot missile system to protect rebel-held areas in the north of the war-torn country.

"I have asked (US Secretary of State) Mr John Kerry during our meeting to provide Patriot (missile protection) that encompasses northern Syria, and he has promised to look into the matter," said Khatib at an Arab summit in Doha, Qatar.

"We are still awaiting a decision from NATO on this matter."

NATO's sole involvement in Syria's brutal civil war to date has been to position Patriot missile batteries along the Turkish border in order to prevent any air or missile launches from the Syrian side.

"The United States has a bigger role" which it could play beyond offering humanitarian aid worth "$350 million," said Khatib.

The White House said Tuesday that NATO would not provide Patriot missile batteries to protect rebel strongholds in Syria, following a request from opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.

Khatib asked for an extension of the umbrella provided by Patriot positions on the Turkish border designed to intercept any missiles fired from the Syrian side, as he took his seat at the Arab League summit in Doha.

"We are aware of the request," White House spoksman Jay Carney said.

"At this time, NATO does not intend to intervene militarily in Syria," Carney said.

"I think that a Patriot missile battery would follow the definition of military assistance," Carney said, adding that Patriot anti-missile batteries in Turkey were for self-defense only.

Carney added however that the White House was constantly reviewing its policies in Syria, which have seen Washington give hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid but stop short of providing "lethal" military help.

Syrian National Coalition leader Khatib said in Doha that he had asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to extend the Patriot missile protection into northern Syria, and that Kerry had "promised to look into the matter."

"We are still awaiting a decision from NATO on this matter," Khatib said.

A top State Department official was also cool to Khatib's demand for the Syrian opposition coalition, which he heads, to take up Syria's seat at the United Nations, saying that would be up to the UN.

"We recognize the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people," Ventrell told reporters. "But in terms of recognition as a government, we're not there yet," he stressed.

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