Turkey is planning to ask NATO for Patriot missiles to help defend its southern region from Syria, said an Ankara source quoted by international media.
The missile defense battery would be stationed along the country's 910 kilometer (560 mile) border with Syria, said a senior Turkish foreign ministry official.
"An imminent official request is to be made,” the source told a reporter on condition of anonymity. "The deployment of these type of missiles as a step to counter threats is routine under NATO regulations," the official said.
A NATO spokeswoman in Brussels told reporters the organization had not yet received any request for the defense system from Ankara. She added, however: "As the Secretary-General said on Monday, the allies will consider any request that is brought to the North Atlantic Council."
Turkey and the United States have discussed with other allies the possibility of using Patriot missile batteries to protect a buffer zone within the civil war-torn Syrian nation. Ankara raised the issue as a possible means of stopping loyalist forces fighting for President Bashar al-Assad from carrying out air strikes on residential neighborhoods where rebels hide.
Such a plan, said the foreign ministry official, might deployed under a “NATO umbrella.” Further talks were put off until after the U.S. national elections.
NATO installed an early warning radar system in 2011 for the European missile shield project in the southeastern Malatya province of Turkey. The project also included missile batteries in Romania and Poland, and longer-range missiles on board a ship off the northern coast of Spain, with a command and control center in German.
The United States has said the missile shield is aimed at thwarting threats from the Middle East, particularly Iran. Turkish officials, however, have insisted that the shield installed in Malatya targets no specific country.