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NATO

Turkey NATO request 'expected'

Turkey is expected to formally request NATO assistance to help boost defenses on its border with war-torn Syria. Violence has at times spilled over into Turkey.

Speaking from a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels on Monday, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière said he expected Turkey would make a formal request for help from NATO.

"I expect there to be a request today from the Turkish government," he said. "This is about a precautionary and defensive measure on NATO territory only."

Turkey is expected to request that NATO send Patriot missile units (pictured above) to the 910-km (565 mile) border. These would help in defending Turkey against mortar fire that is increasingly crossing the border from Syria's civil war.

Among NATO members, only Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have Patriot missiles.

De Maizière said that if a request was made for the missiles to be moved to Turkey, they would be accompanied by German soldiers.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that even without Turkey's formal request, the organization is treating the situation as "a matter of urgency."

"Turkey can count on allied solidarity," he said, while echoing de Maizière's caution that such a move would be defensive in nature. "We are not speaking about a no-fly zone. If we are to deploy Patriot missiles it would be a purely defensive measure to defend and protect Turkey."

Meanwhile on Monday, a video was posted by a group of Islamic extremist factions in Syria saying they wanted no part of a recently agreed opposition coalition.

The agreement to form a coalition was reached on November 11 in Qatar by Syrians opposed to President Bashar Assad. However, in the video posted online extremists including the al Qaeda-inspired al Nusra Front said they were fighting for an Islamic state.

mz/sej (Reuters, AP, AFP)