Germany has said it approved participation in a NATO mission to deploy Patriot missiles to help member state Turkey defend its border against Syria and will send up to 400 troops.
The foreign and defence ministries said in a joint statement on Thursday that the mandate, which is expected to be presented to parliament early next week, would run to January 31, 2014.
NATO on Tuesday approved Turkey’s request for Patriot missiles to defend its border against Syria following a series of blunt warnings to Damascus not to use chemical weapons.
NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance’s decision reflected a “steadfast commitment” to preserving the security of its 28 member states.
The alliance said that Germany along with the Netherlands and the United States have agreed to provide the Patriot missile batteries, which would come under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
“Turkey is currently the most-affected partner in the Syria conflict. It is exposed to a potential threat from Syria,” Germany’s ministries said.
In an interview with Lebanese news channel Al Manar on Thursday, Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad blasted NATO’s move to deploy the Patriot missiles, calling the decision “provocative”.
“The Turkish move and NATO’s support for it is a provocative move, part of psychological warfare against Syria,” Meqdad said.
“But if they think this will affect our determination to fight the terrorists … they are wrong.”
Damascus car bomb
An explosion in front of the Damascus headquarters for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent killed at least one person on Thursday, Syrian state television said.
Syria TV said “terrorists from al-Qaeda” blew up an improvised explosive device in a car, causing damage to the organisation’s building. The government and state media often refer to opposition rebels fighting to topple President Assad as “terrorists”.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has come under fire several times, and members accuse both the government and Syrian rebels of attacks.
On Thursday afternoon Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, diplomatic sources in Washington and Moscow said.
The three will meet on the sidelines of an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) gathering in Dublin.
Groups monitoring the conflict in Syria say over 41,000 people have been killed since fighting began in March 2011.