NATO has denounced Iranian anger over planned deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries and troops in Turkey.
Iran, a generous benefactor of the regime headed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, reacted with rage to news that six batteries of Patriot missiles would be activated along the Turkish-Syrian border next month with hundreds of troops from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands.
Yesterday (Sunday), Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi warned in a veiled threat there could be “uncalculated” consequences if the Patriot missiles were to be deployed as planned.
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists Monday at a news conference, “I completely denounce these allegations.
“We have made clear right from the outset that the deployment of Patriots is a purely defensive measure. We are there to defend and protect our ally Turkey. We have no offensive intentions whatsoever,” he said.
On Saturday, Iranian Army Chief of Staff General Hassan Firouzabadi claimed in a statement carried on Iran's national television the deployment could start a third world war.
"Each one of these Patriots is a black mark on the world map, and is meant to cause a world war,” he said in his statement quoted by IRNA, Iran's official state news agency. “The wise and the elite in Europe, the U.S. and Turkey should dismantle the Patriots and take them away from the region before a fire breaks out,” he advised.
"We are a friend of Turkey, we want security with Turkey, not Turkey being attacked through Syria so that they would want to deploy Patriots there.
"Patriot missiles are a defense line for the Zionists and a result of concerns over Iran's missiles and Russia's presence to defend Syria,” he claimed. “Western countries approve the deployment of Patriots on the Syria-Turkey border as they design a world war.”
The remarks came the day after Washington announced it would send two Patriot missile batteries and 400 troops to protect Turkey from possible Syrian missile attacks.
There have been repeated instances of spillover from clashes between rebel forces and troops loyal to the Syrian regime. More than once, both gunshots and missile fire has crossed the border into Turkey, as well as Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.
Turkey has scrambled fighter jets in response, and Israel responded with gunfire of its own.