Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 6, 2012

Syria criticizes NATO move on Patriot missiles

(Continued)

"I repeat for the hundredth time that even if such weapons exist in Syria, they will not be used against the Syrian people," Mekdad said in an interview with Lebanon's Al-Manar TV station. "We cannot possibly commit suicide, Syria is a responsible country."

Mekdad added that the Syrian government is worried the U.S. or some European countries could provide "terrorist" organizations in Syria with chemical weapons to use, then blame the government.

Asked about NATO's approval to send Patriot missiles to Turkey, Mekdad said "there is absolutely no justification for that because Syria will not attack the friendly people of Turkey."

He said Syria's problem was with the Turkish government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which he said has funded and trained "terrorists" and opened its borders for al-Qaida fighters to come to Syria.

He said the Turkish government was "bankrupt" and was "begging for assistance from NATO countries."

"The Turkish move and NATO's support for it is a provocative move, part of psychological warfare against Syria," Mekdad said. "But if they think this will affect our determination to fight the terrorists ... they are wrong."

He warned that any foreign military intervention against Syria will be "catastrophic" with severe consequences.

NATO agreed earlier this week to send the weapons to prevent cross-border attacks against Turkey after mortar rounds and shells from Syria killed five Turks.

Germany's Cabinet approved sending German Patriot air defense missiles to Turkey on Thursday. The decision must be endorsed by the German Parliament, but approval is all but assured. The Dutch Cabinet is expected to announce approval Friday, contingent on parliamentary approval.

De Maiziere said the overall mission was also expected to include two batteries each from the Netherlands and the United States.

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