NATO Patriot missile batteries deployed along the Turkey-Syria border will harm Turkish security, Iran’s defense minister said Saturday in condemning Ankara’s move.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted by the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency saying, “The installation of Patriot missiles in Turkey plays no role in establishing Turkey’s security and this harms the country of Turkey.”
Ankara received missile batteries from its NATO allies amid growing concern over Syria’s use of Scud missiles against rebel forces and President Bashar Assad’s possible use of chemical weapons.
“The West has always pursued its viewpoints and interests and we disagree with the presence of Western countries in regional interactions,” he added.
Vahidi joined a growing chorus of Iranian officials who criticized neighboring Turkey for asking NATO for defensive missile batteries to be deployed along the tense border with Syria.
Last week Iranian Chief of General Staff Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi said that stationing Patriot missiles on Turkey’s border with Syria is setting the stage for a world war. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed his statement as nonsense, according to Turkish Today’s Zaman.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi earlier this week also condemned what it called Turkey’s provocative deployment of Patriot batteries. “It is believed here that stationing these missiles in Turkey is an act of provocation, not deterrence,” Salehi reportedly said.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmusen said Friday that the Syrian military has continued to fire Scud-type missiles, describing the move as an act of desperation of a regime nearing its end. Although none of the Syrian rockets hit Turkish territory, he said the use of the medium-range ballistic rockets showed that NATO was justified in deploying six batteries of Patriot anti-missile systems.
The United States, Germany and the Netherlands will each provide two batteries of the US-built air defense systems to Turkey. More than 1,000 American, German and Dutch troops will man the batteries, likely from sites well inland in Turkey.
Vahidi also issued a denial of Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war, saying that Tehran isn’t training Assad’s forces to battle the rebels, according to ISNA. Vahidi said Syria doesn’t need Iran’s help because it has a strong military, which is prepared involvement with the Zionist regime, Israel Radio reported.