NATO on call to engage in Syria, Europe commander says
NATO was ready to engage in Syria if its members saw the need, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis said on Tuesday.
Addressing US Senate's Armed Services Committee, NATO commander said the North Atlantic Alliance was making contingency plans for a NATO military presence in Syria and was prepared to engage provided that such action was demanded.
"We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared, if called upon, to be engaged as we were in Libya," Stavridis said.
Agreement among 28 Alliance members, plus a United Nations Security Council resolution was required for the go-ahead, NATO commander said.
"The Syrian situation continues to become worse and worse and worse: 70,000 killed, a million refugees pushed out of the country, probably two and a half million internally displaced," Stavridis said. "No end in sight to the vicious civil war."
Asked if NATO-deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey had the capability to target Syrian military aircraft, Stavridis said such capability existed.
"My personal opinion is that would be helpful in breaking the deadlock and bringing down the Assad regime," Stavridis said, while adding that Turkey's decision and a unanimous agreement by NATO members were needed for such action and the countries were "far from that position" at present.
Turkey called for an emergency NATO meeting last June, citing credible threats to its security after the downing of one of its fighter jets by Syrian forces in international airspace 13 miles off the coast of Syria. NATO responded by deploying Patriot missiles in January to help the country ward off possible attacks by missiles or jets from its southern neighbor.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013