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No-Fly Zone Debate: Are the Patriots Up to It?

Patriot missiles stationed in Turkey have been the subject of debate as officials and those on the ground consider the feasibility of enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria, writes Fernande van Tets.
Patriot missile installation is pictured at a positions near the city of Kahramanmaras, February 23, 2013. Germany's defence minister inspected Patriot missile batteries close to the Syria-Turkey border on Saturday and said they delivered a "clear warning" to Damascus that NATO would not tolerate missiles being fired into Turkey. Thomas de Maiziere and his Dutch counterpart Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert travelled to the Turkish cities of Adana and Kahramanmaras to inspect the batteries provided by their countr

In the control room at Incirlik Air Base, images from the previous night show two red dots, indicating ballistic missiles fired in Syria. The two missiles originated in the Homs region, but both landed well clear of the Turkish border. So far, "Fireball" — the term used to indicate a ballistic missile heading their way — has not been heard yet in any of the command centers.

The current mission, which employs six batteries of Patriot missiles—two each manned by German, U.S. and Dutch troops—is limited to intercepting ballistic missiles heading to main Turkish population centers in the south. Yet a debate is growing about whether the Patriot mission should be expanded from a solely defensive role to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Syria’s north. NATO members, however, have not tabled a formal request to expand the mission.

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