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Report: Germany to deploy missiles on Turkey-Syria border

BERLIN -- Germany plans to deploy Patriot surface-to-air missiles along NATO partner Turkey's border with war-torn Syria, a German newspaper reported Saturday.

NATO, German and Turkish officials did not confirm the report.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which did not name its source, said Germany's armed forces planned to deploy Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft and -missile units, with up to 170 troops to operate them, to the volatile border.

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Turkey - which hosts Syrian refugee camps and has traded sporadic rocket fire with Syria's military - would Monday make a formal request to NATO, and the alliance would grant it, the daily said.

Germany was now checking whether the deployment would require parliamentary approval, the report added.

NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said: "There has not been a request by Turkey. If there is a request, it will be considered by the allies."

A German defence ministry spokesman also said that both NATO and Berlin would consider such a request if it was made.

He also confirmed that within NATO only the US, Dutch and German military forces have the PAC-3, the latest Patriot model, which was specified in the report.

The newspaper said German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere had discussed the issue at a Paris meeting Thursday of the German, French, Polish, Italian and Spanish defence and foreign ministers.

De Maiziere was cited as telling them that, if the deployment were agreed, it would aim solely to protect Turkey and not to interfere in the Syrian conflict.

But he said the missiles would be deployed in order to be used if needed, not just for "psychological" effect.

Turkey - which shares a 910-kilometre border with Syria - said ten days ago said it would like NATO support in the form of surface-to-air missiles.

Ankara - a former Damascus ally that has turned against Bashar al-Assad's regime - has demanded the creation of a no-fly zone near the border in order to protect rebels and refugees. dpa cn/hrz/wn fxz mat Authors: Carsten Hoffmann, Martina Herzog and Uta Winkhaus

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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